Pit bulls are inherently dangerous

May 04 2012 Published by under #FWDAOTI

According to the Maryland Court of Appeals.

A new ruling makes it easier for anyone attacked by a pit bull or pit bull mix in Maryland to take legal action against the dog's owner.

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruling declares pit bulls as a breed are "inherently dangerous," and the owner of a pit bull or a cross-bred pit that attacks is strictly liable for damages, as is any landlord who rents to a pit bull owner.

From this, which appears to be the decision, we get more clarity:

Upon a plaintiff’s sufficient proof that a dog involved in an attack is a pit bull or a pit bull
cross, and that the owner, or other person(s) who has the right to control the pit bull’s
presence on the subject premises (including a landlord who has a right to prohibit such dogs
on leased premises) knows, or has reason to know, that the dog is a pit bull or cross-bred pit
bull, that person is liable for the damages caused to a plaintiff who is attacked by the dog on
or from the owner’s or lessor’s premises. In that case a plaintiff has established a prima facie
case of negligence. When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that
the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous.

Sick of reading these news accounts? I am. Try it yourself. Google pitbull attack on any given day.

UPDATE: For those that want to play "Pitbull Denialism" along with me, download your handy DINGO card.

238 responses so far

  • You're going to get so much flak for this one....

  • Neb says:

    Deservedly so. This is supposed to be a science blog.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Courts make evidence based decisions Neb.

  • neuromusic says:

    This isn't about pit bulls being inherently dangerous, its just an explicit change in the court's bayesian prior

    P(dangerous=True|dog="pit bull") = 0.99

  • Neb says:

    When did googling newspaper articles become evidence? That particular court made a media based decision. It wouldn't be the first time a court did that. I could present "evidence" by googling articles that certain races of humans are more prone to violence than others. Doesn't make it science.

  • HCA says:

    It's not the dogs that are dangerous, it's the douchebags who want "a badass dog" who deliberately buy and don't train (or mis-train) these animals. They'll pick whatever dog seems "meanest", creating a vicious cycle of more and more morons creating more and more problems until enough restrictions are put into place that they move on to a new breed. If you banned all breeding and ownership of pits nationwide, these idiots would just find a new breed and do the same thing, leaving you in a perpetual game of dog breed whack-a-mole, and always showing up a day late and a dollar short.

    IMHO, we need to radically re-tool how we think of animal ownership in our culture, starting with recognizing it as privilege rather than a right, and one that is neither automatically granted nor immutable. Your driver's license is only issued once you prove your capability and can be revoked, why not do the same with dogs?

    Look at the exotic animal laws of Florida for an excellent blueprint - species are grouped into categories with different requirements, ranging from a written test to 1000 hours apprenticeship under a licensed keeper. The state makes money on the system from fees, it minimizes the number of jackasses with things they can't handle, and it also reduces the black market that would arise from a blanket ban. Granted this system is for animals that make pit bulls look like day-old kittens, but a similar system could be put in place for dogs, with minimal requirements of yappy fluffy things all the way up to extensive experience and apprenticeship requirements for "dangerous" breeds.

    Yes, people would scream bloody murder, but so do oil companies when you try regulating them, and it certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't regulate them.

  • becca says:

    I think you meant to say "Pit bulls are inherently delicious"

  • anon says:

    This should apply to all breeds of dogs, even fucking chihuahuas. Any dog owner should be willing to take responsibility if their dog causes substantial harm to another person. I agree with HCA - people should have to obtain a license to own a dog. Isn't this true for guns?

  • drugmonkey says:

    certain races of humans are more prone to violence than others

    are you referring to what we now thing of as "white" people? Or are you not counting wars of conquest?

  • OJ Simpson says:

    Courts make evidence based decisions.

    LOL. Do you know any lawyers?

  • HCA says:

    Also, I should clarify that I'm not opposed to certain species or breed being labeled "dangerous". I keep and work with plenty of things that truly deserve that label, far moreso than any dog.

    But there needs to be a recognition of the difference between my "dangerous" pets, who have brains the size of grain of rice and run almost entirely on instinct, and a "dangerous" dog, a big-brained mammal with behavior that can be dramatically shaped by even rudimentary conditioning. In the former case, I can't really do much other than condition it to being used to humans if possible and ensure the enclosure and room are escape-proof. In the latter, the "dangerous" nature is more the owner's fault than a function of the dog's inherent predisposition. Dogs are very malleable, and have been bred to be so. I've seen pitbulls who are complete teddybears, and I've seen abuse make even a *greyhound* aggressive and "dangerous" (the dog is being rehabilitated, though).

    Off-topic divergence in support of this view - in reptiles, species or population is an extremely strong predictor of behavior, and even close relatives can be wildly divergent. Every single amazon tree boa is an immutably nasty little SOB, but boa constrictors tame readily if handled. Argentine black & white tegus are like big, scaly lizard-puppies, but Colombian black & white tegus are like a radial saw that can chase you. You'd be astonished how laid-back many venomous snakes are, and how exceedingly unpleasant ecologically similar non-venomous snakes are. Environment plays a role (captive bred animals are usually nicer, sometimes dramatically, and handling helps them get used to you) but species is the primary determinant of that, too (green tree pythons are as nasty in F5+ as the first wild-caught ones, and no amount of handling changes it).

    To put it in stats terms, species vs behavior has a huge r2 in reptiles, but even if the regression is significant in dog breeds, the r2 is still low. Too much scatter.

    TL;DR - For "simple-minded" species, the "dangerous" aspect is pretty much built in (but can be prevented with proper care), but for something as capable of learning as a dog, blame lies primarily in the environment. There's too much variability for breed to be a truly useful predictor in dogs.

  • drugmonkey says:

    HCA-

    who gives a crap about all that? The point is, why should a toddler or little old lady be put at risk by some superfluous, unnecessary thing like a dog? Nobody needs a pet tiger and nobody needs a pet pit bull. They WANT them*, sure. but there are options for all of the alleged benefits vis a vis "companionship", "protection" and any of a host of other claims.

    *It's kind of like fully automatic weapons and shoulder launched missiles. Sure, the militia crackpots WANT them...but society has determined the risk/benefit does not lean that way. Same deal with "pet" species.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Any dog owner should be willing to take responsibility if their dog causes substantial harm to another person.

    and what form does that "responsibility" take? Are you supporting legal consequences identical to if the owner had themselves intentionally caused the harm? automatic Murder 1 in the case of a fatality?

    And why should we, as a society, allow conditions under which this happens to occur? What is the driving good of pit bull ownership that justifies putting toddlers and little old ladies (not to mention people's considerably less harmful pet species) at risk?

  • Hermitage says:

    Lol, why do you troll so hard about pitbulls, DM? Next thing I know you're going to be saying they having locking jaws or some shit.

  • drugmonkey says:

    why do you troll so hard about pitbulls, DM?

    why, pray tell, is it "trolling"? Is discussion of every subject that one finds of interest, on which there is considerable disagreement in the blogspace, "trolling"?

    (oh, and thanks for giving me my O5!)

  • HCA says:

    DM - my problem is weighting the safety of the public vs owning a particular animal, but that dog breed is a not a valid proxy for danger.

    Dogs are incredibly malleable. *Any* dog that's been abused or "trained to be tough" can be dangerous (possibly excluding the little yippy hair-piles). This same conversation used to be about rottweilers, and before that dobermans, and before that German shepards. In every case, the dog itself does not have a significantly higher natural predisposition towards human-oriented aggression - it's just the "tough" dog of the moment. Today, nobody thinks twice about a German shepard with a kid, but 20 years ago people would call you nuts because "they're naturally aggressive".

    The problem is people. Douchebags want a "tough" dog, and so whatever dog is currently thought of a "tough" will be bought and bred in large numbers by these idiots and "trained" in ways that maximize the likelyhood of dangerous incidents. Once the fad breed changes or laws make owning the breed untenable, they'll just move on to the next breed.

    The breed is only an indirect predictor of behavior. It's not "Pitbull therefore dangerous", it's "Pitbull therefore douchebag owner therefore poor training therefore dangerous".

    Mark my words, in 10 years, there will be another breed in exactly the same situation, one currently regarded as "safe", because the douchebags just moved on to the next "tough dog". I'd place my bet on Boxers - they seem to be increasing in popularity, at least here, look "tough", etc. You could ban pitbulls tomorrow, and in 4 years the rate of dog attacks will be *exactly* the same, just with a new designated villain.

    You're assuming that the breed prevalence in dog attacks reflects innate aspects of the breed, while I'm saying it reflects only the temporary social selection of a given breed as the "tough dog".

  • HCA says:

    Sorry, the first line should be "is not weighing"

  • anon says:

    "and what form does that "responsibility" take? Are you supporting legal consequences identical to if the owner had themselves intentionally caused the harm? automatic Murder 1 in the case of a fatality?"

    I am agreeing with the Maryland court of appeals, except that it should not be limited to pit bulls. As for your other questions, my position is that the extent of the punishment should fit the crime. Death by a dog attack would not qualify as "automatic murder 1", unless the owner purposefully unleashed the animal on the victim with the intent to kill.

    "And why should we, as a society, allow conditions under which this happens to occur?"

    Are you saying that people should not own dogs? poodles? We allow gun ownership. cars. bicycles. swimming pools. trampolines. All of those things have the potential to kill kids or to cause permanent disabilities (and why are you stopping at old ladies or toddlers? old men or younger adults aren't as susceptible to accidents? wtf?).

  • Drugmonkey says:

    HCA-

    Given that the "tough" breeds of recent memory are but a fraction of the available dogs, sure no prob. Ban them all. People can find companions without pits, Dobies, GS and Rots. Also those Canary monstrosities. Next one becomes a problem, we ban those. Easy peasy.

    Now, are you saying any breed has the exact same capacity for havoc as another? Cause I like my chances against a yorkie (aggro little stinkers that they are) much better than against a pitbull.

  • Kaviani says:

    Thank you, HCA, for injecting a modicum of sanity to this petulantly anonymous blogger's histrionics. Yes, everything you read on the Google is GOSPEL, all pit bulls are EVIL, and courts are pristine, flawless institutions.
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Oh and for those of you who think Google's news listings are fatally flawed, time to move on to the second round. Dig deep now!

    http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics.php

  • Maul Talk says:

    "Pit bull denialism" -- I don't think we have that one yet. It will make a nice edition to the website. Thank you!

  • HCA says:

    DM - the problem with your suggestion is that it doesn't actually accomplish anything productive. Ban all the "bad" breeds, and they'll just move on to something else, with very little reduction in injury/mortality. By the time there are enough incidents to ban that breed, they'll move on again and the whole process repeats

    You're essentially advocating a legal game of "whack-a-mole" where you're always a day late and a dollar short. It won't achieve a significant reduction in dog bite injuries, so there's no real benefit to justify even a trivial cost.

    You're essentially advocating for minor palliative treatment of the symptom while leaving the underlying illness alone. Yes, it's more convenient and easier, but it's also totally ineffective.

  • I live in the UK in a Northern city. Over here pit bulls as a breed are banned. Of course this merely means that an awful lot of Staffordshire bull terriers which look uncannily like American pit bulls are being proudly walked by their usually young adult male owners.
    Owning one of these dogs is an accoutrement of a certain youth sub-culture. It includes: a shiftless attitude, a desire to remain on state benefits as long as possible, smoking cannabis incessantly, crime.
    The aggressive traits present in these animals are brought to the fore by the owners mistreating them and encouraging displays of aggression against other animals.
    A natural consequence of this type of treatment is an inherent instability wherein these animals can turn against, for example, a baby in a display of jealousy. Likewise they can turn on other family members completely out of the blue; with no apparent perception of threat on the dogs part or any other stimulus which might promote a fight or flight response (a typical pit bull doesn't really do 'flight' response ).
    As to the moral maze of who is culpable when one of these animals kills a child or maims a pensioner I for one don't care about the legal niceties. If one of these button nosed 50lb lumps of muscle attacked me or one of my loved ones I would want to (A) kill the mad dog, then (B) kill the other crazy who through their irresponsibility created this tragic scenario. As regards all the horse shit over 'maladjusted dogs' that just need counselling and/or such crap as 'dogs don't kill people, people create dogs that kill people' my response to this is, "Psycho-babble bullshit.

  • queenrandom says:

    Without taking a position - that link shows pit bulls to be way more abundant than the other breeds on the list; you'd expect a larger number of incidents for a breed if that breed is predominant. If you do a little math, the # for bodily harm is actually lower per dog (the rate of bodily incidents) than some of the others (rotties, wolf hybrids, I didn't make it further down the list). Normalization rocks.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Maul Talk- denialism is not just a cute turn of phrase. start here and see what you recognize http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/deck.php

    HCA "they'll just move on to something else, with very little reduction in injury/mortality.....you're always a day late and a dollar short. "

    - that's an entirely unbased assertion. and given how quickly animal control regulations can be changed (and enforced, given the will to do so) versus the time it takes for social factors to land on a new breed and create enough to fill the apparent vacuum, well, I'd like to see that experiment. I don't see any such problem with ownership of charismatic wild felines as pets, for example.

    minor palliative treatment of the symptom while leaving the underlying illness alone

    uh-huh. more like quarantining the voluntarily infected so that they cannot affect anyone else.

    smoking cannabis incessantly okay, who put you up to this? Pitbull owning cannabis smokers are like the pinnacle for fwdaoti...

    the # for bodily harm is actually lower per dog

    I am entirely happy to reduce the total numbers as a first step. rate does not concern me. toddlers with their faces ripped off and dead old ladies do.

    your "some of the others" and failure to go down the list is missing the point. I have no problem with getting rid of multiple breeds, see comments above.

  • neuromusic says:

    I'm imagining the bumper stickers now...

    Pit bulls don't kill babies... people kill babies

  • Alex says:

    I have a conservative acquaintance (once upon a time I would have said "friend", but the more odious he becomes the less time I spend around him) who collects news stories about people from certain racial groups committing crimes against members of his racial group. Give him a chance, and he can say "Google for [insert race and crime here] and see how many instances there are!" Never mind that he's going off hits for news stories, not off of statistics or first-hand experience with the group he fears so much.

    If you press him, he'll point out that, just as a Maryland court of appeals agrees with DM, juries across the country routinely agree with him.

    Honestly, I'd expect DM to do better than that.

    I mean, for all I know, it might be that pit bulls are inherently dangerous. I consider it a dubious proposition, but show me the statistics and I'll give it serious consideration. However, "Just google for pit bull attacks!" is merely the plural of anecdote, i.e. not data. I asked my veterinarian friend about it, and she said that she hasn't seen the stats, but the plural anecdotes that she interacts with make her pretty skeptical of DM's stance.

    As for me, I'm planning to adopt a poodle mix. They don't shed, they're smarter than your typical undergrad, and they're big enough to bark loud and tackle and intruder.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    So your vet friend (thanks for the G4, btw) has no data but is "skeptical", eh? See the problem here? You decry the Google method (which IS a data source) to go with some half-assed localized vet's experience? .... 'k.

    And anyway, point your vet friend to the stats linked in a prior comment and see what you get.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    And wrt to your dumbass friend, do the stats support his/her position the way the pit bull attack stats support the Google News viewpoint? If it is black on white crime, the answer is a clear "no".

  • physioprof says:

    Everyone knows it's the fucken bichon frises that are the most inherently dangerous vicious motherfuckers around.

  • becca says:

    Also DM, if you didn't normalize to the total # of animals, you really are trolling. Then the stats do not back up GoogleNews. I shan't listen to anyone get their briches in a bunch about 'denialism' using that kind of shoddy unscientific approach. Neener.

    That said, the obvious solution is to EAT ALL THE DOGS.

  • Dogmatic says:

    Genetics play a huge part in a dog's behavior and temperament. The Belyaev experiment has been going on since the 1959, and has proven that selective breeding, in even a few generations, can produce an animal that is genetically friendly toward humans; it can also produce an animal that is genetically aggressive. If this can be easily accomplished in wild canids (foxes), it can be easily done in domestic dogs.

    Pit bulls were bred by the dogmen to be "game", which means that once they are engaged in a fight, they do not stop, despite pain and mortal wounds. They were selected through generations to be highly dog aggressive, and to not respond normally to canine body language. They ignore signals of submission. They have a high threshold for pain. They have an active defence reflex, and will chose fight over flight when challenged. They were bred to attack without the typical warning signals, since signaling intent to your opponent is a liability in the fighting pit.
    While normal dogs use mostly ritualistic displays of aggression.... posturing, hackling, growling, pinning and air snapping; or use just enough force to open up a flight path, such as when a fearful dog bites and releases....pit bulls have been bred to grab, hold, and shake their opponent until it stops moving.

    This behavior in pit bulls is a self rewarding behavior, just as the exagerated eye-stalk behavior of the border collie is. It is not the result of abuse or training. Current breeding practices for pit bulls continue to select for these traits...the vast majority of people breeding pit bulls todays are at best grossly irresponsible back yard breeders, who are ingoring temperament and just looking to make a quick buck, or are criminals, drug dealers, gang members and dog fighters, breeding aggressive pits as guard dogs for drug ops, or for the fighting pit.

    It's time to stop the fairy tales about "nanny dogs", and the mental gymnastics of looking for triggers and excuses as to "why" pit bull attacks occur. The dogs are simply doing what they were bred to do. Dogs aren't people, they are a eugenics experiment. Pit bulls were created for an activity that is now a felony in all 50 states. Its time to take a hard look at regulating them as a public safety measure.

  • Alex says:

    Regarding G4: "Random-ass vet" is not a valid response to stats (which I will address below) but it is a valid response to "Look at Google news!" At least random-ass vet sees a cross-secti0n of the pits in her community, while Google News just sees the ones that go bad. It isn't statistically valid, but it's closer to being valid than Google News.

    Regarding stats:

    The first study on the site you linked to has this to say about methodology:
    "Information for this report was gathered through media accounts that were available at the time of the attack or found through Internet archives, including: Google News Archive and AccessMyLibrary."

    I have questions about the reliability of this information. News reports are often not terribly reliable, nor are they systematic samples. Moreover, breed identification based on eyewitness descriptions is different from actually examining the dog. There are a lot of breeds that get mistaken for pit bulls.

    Would you trust a "study" on drug overdose fatalities that was based on media accounts? Or would you prefer a study based on ER records, police records, etc.?

    I'm standing by my assertion that random-ass vet is no worse than this site's "studies."

  • Drugmonkey says:

    "no worse than" is not "better than". Just so we're clear on that. And I dispute your claim to coverage. Comprehensive (assumption) in one locale is not better than spot checking worldwide, and I'd say inferior.

    I do talk about media accounts of drug fatalities and try to make it clear exactly how to view that information. It is denialist to write it off as meaningless simply because it points in a direction you disagree with. Even if we're dealing with outliers, is this how you do your science? Dismiss all outliers that disagree with your hypothesis?

  • Alex says:

    I look at all of the outliers in a representative sample. My students and I spend a lot of time thinking very carefully about how we acquire that sample, making sure that our methods do not bias the sample, and that we have fully sampled all cases relevant to the system we are studying. Once I have done that, I look at all of the outliers in that sample. I have some knowledge about the statistical properties of the outliers, so I look at the distribution of outliers to make sure that we haven't under-sampled them or over-sampled them. Then, once I know that we have a good sample, I include the outliers in my analysis.

    What I don't do is combine outliers from that sample with outliers from smaller samples acquired by methods that I can't vouch for, and I certainly don't combine different samples without giving a lot of thought to the proper weighting of data.

  • Alex says:

    tldr:

    If I were the reviewer, those studies would never make it past peer review. And I respect you enough to assume that you wouldn't let them through either, DM.

  • [...] is a discussion about this already going on at DrugMonkey’s blogge, with the usual apologetics of the pit bull [...]

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    I'm confused by something. You choose to title your post "Pit bulls are inherently dangerous", and you denounce "pitbull denialism" (a pity: "denialism" was once a useful word) with one of those stupid bingo cards.

    Yet, when presented with basic statistical analysis, or indeed any kind of reasoning, you start demanding laws against any and all large breeds and you argue (in highly emotive language) that even if pit bulls are less dangerous than other breeds "I am entirely happy to reduce the total numbers as a first step."

    Given all the (usually unpleasant) ways there are to suffer and die, why pick dogs, and why act as if it were pit bulls specifically you object to when you admit almost immediately it's not?

  • Drugmonkey says:

    That was the court ruling which triggered the discussion AA...did you miss that part?

  • If these pit bulls are all so loving and wouldn't hurt a fly, then why care that pit bull owners are now held in Maryland to a strict liability standard for any mayhem they cause, since--being so loving and never hurting a fly--they're not gonna cause any mayhem to be held liable for? Right?

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Excellent point, Comrade!

  • Alex says:

    We should have strict liability for everything. If you aren't doing anything irresponsible you'll never be sued!

  • Because it hasn't been said yet: if we outlaw pit bulls, then only outlaws will have pit bulls.

    On the other hand, pit bulls probably don't have to worry about being attacked by raptors...

  • Lady Day says:

    While everyone is Googling pit bull attacks, go ahead and Google pit bull abuse. This is one of the most abused categories of dogs (it's not a breed, really, as pit bull is a general category of dog).

    Where is the well-controlled behavioral study conducted on lab-born-and-raised dogs of different breeds (born and raised in labs so other confounding variables aren't introduced)?

    Most news reports these days are subject to bias and lack depth on issues they cover, as any scientist should know. Here's another example of media bias: the pre-2003 Iraq invasion hype about WMD. Anyone want to defend that, while they're defending supposed "inherently dangerous" aspects of pit bull behavior?

    Anyway, I wonder what Jon Stewart has to say about his 2 pits? Anyone think he's reconsidering ownership of his dogs because of some decision by a court in Maryland?

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    DM;

    Are you aware that you can come across (or think up) an anti-pit bull statement and choose not to endorse it?

    I ask because my initial question was aimed at the different and inconsistent (but always anti-pit bull) things you've said, and you answer me by pointing out that one of them was first said by someone else, as if it were too much to ask you to think for yourself.

    PP;

    The sad thing is you think you're being clever.

    I am neither a pit bull owner nor a resident of Maryland. Obviously the fact that I have "nothing to worry about" (in that famous totalitarian phrase) isn't the issue. Maybe I just don't like irrationality.

    While I'm at it, I'd like to ask you: what do you think of laws against switchblades and balisongs? What about tactical folding knives, which although currently legal can be deployed as quickly and much more quietly than the above?

    neuromusic;

    No. They "updated" their "Bayesian" prior to P(dangerous=True|dog="pit bull") = 1.

    I put Bayesian in sneer quotes because evidence obviously had nothing to do with this, and is explicitly ruled out of consideration in the future. Really, trying to phrase the judiciary's actions in those terms will lead you wrong: the judiciary is non-Bayesian, and therefore irrational and untrustworthy.

    Dogmatic;

    That reads like a preliminary explaining why your actual argument shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

    So where's the argument?

  • Lady Day says:

    I tried to post this, but it didn't post. Anyway, great opinion piece on this issue:

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-05-01/news/bs-ed-pit-bull-facts-letter-20120501_1_pit-bulls-rottweilers-large-dogs

  • Drugmonkey says:

    I'm not "anti-pitbull", AA. I'm "anti-dogs-attacking-innocent-people". Also against any people having to have any concern that your compensatory lifestyle choice will endanger them or theirs.

    Unattended switchblades and automobiles do not pose any threat, absent a person deploying them.

  • Lady Day says:

    When I first rescued my pit bull, I remember walking her and being informed by a construction worker that my dog's jaws were capable of "700 pounds of force." This caused me much consternation, as I recalled that construction workers are experts at the mechanics of dog jaw closure and the dude was likely referencing published data sets collected by his peers....

  • Alex says:

    Look, when it comes to canine jaw muscles, whom are you going to trust? Some rand0m-ass person who went to veterinary school, or people on the street and Google News?

  • Lady Day says:

    @ Alex: I regularly take my extremely ferocious pit bull (whom my husband has nicknamed "baby girl") to a local construction site for her health examinations and shot updates. Veterinarians are total QUACKS. Random construction workers and the news media are the BEST at giving advice on animal care, and, in general, are the most informed about inherent traits and characteristics of the various breeds of dogs. ; )

  • Lady Day says:

    Oh, and I was being sarcastic about my "extremely ferocious" dog (she's a big baby, really).

    Here's a news article that cites someone who researches dog bites (for once): http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-mct-experts-warn-not-to-demonize-dog-breed-20120505,0,7759659,full.story

    And, here's an opinion piece that I found to be rather interesting: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-05-01/news/bs-ed-pit-bull-facts-letter-20120501_1_pit-bulls-rottweilers-large-dogs

  • Lady Day says:

    @ Alex: I was being sarcastic about my "extremely ferocious" pit bull, BTW. She's really a big baby.

    There are some interesting articles on this subject that one can find via Google (for some reason, my comments with the direct links are not getting posted):

    1.) "Experts warn not to demonize dog breed" by Julie Ann Grimm. This is one of the few articles that I've come across that actually cites someone who does dog bite research.

    2.) "You can't separate pit bull prejudice from racial prejudice," an opinion piece by Lawrence Grandpre that has an interesting take on the matter (and one that I've suspected for a while).

  • mikka says:

    Dogs should only be allowed in farms. All breeds. Keeping a dog anywhere else counts as abuse to me. And why the fuck should we allow them to pee anywhere they feel like? It's fucken disgusting. Having to walk behind them gathering their excrements is a fair punishment for those self centered assholes that keep dogs in the city. Yeah, pick that shit up, feel it warm and squishy through the thin plastic bag you are using as a makeshift glove. Feel the humiliation. I hope it gets diarrhea and makes your walkies a daily hell.

    There, now that that's out of the way can we just fucken talk about R01s? I'm freaking out over here.

  • Bikemonkey says:

    "Lady" Day- wow, surprised it took so long for someone to equate black people with pitbulls. Expected, but still morally disturbed.

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    DM;

    I don't appreciate being called a liar, especially by someone who titles his post "Pit bulls are inherently dangerous" and then says "I'm not "anti-pitbull", AA."

  • Isabel says:

    "cites someone who does dog bite research." Are we talking about bites here, or maulings and killings? Dog bites are survivable (I've been bitten three times-by a GS, a pit bull, and a rhodesian ridgeback so I speak from experience). But are all breeds really equally implicated in, and capable of, serious injuries and deaths? I don't think that they are. That is what is so scary about certain breeds. Many people who are exposed to these dogs in their day-to-day lives are in poorer neighborhoods and at the mercy of the dogs' owners. Even if the actual maulings are rare the threat is there. The pit bull that bit me let go right away, btw, thankfully.

  • Lady Day says:

    Lawrence Grandpre writes about African-American issues. You can read more of his stuff here: http://indyreader.org/contributor/lawrence-grandpre

    If you read his article, he's not "equating pit bulls with black people." Don't know why you read it that way.

    Anyway, IMO, prejudice against pit bulls may stem from prejudice against their owners - not necessarily on a racial basis, but on a socioeconomic basis.

    Lady Day was Billie Holiday's nickname. Just an FYI, in case you didn't know it. I happen to like her music, as well as her nickname.

  • Isabel says:

    Btw, the German Shepherd that bit me belonged to a retired policeman (I was a neighborhood child who came too close to the leashed dog on a hot day) so was probably trained in aggression. Meanwhile I was growing up with a very child-friendly GS at home and have no doubt that many pitbulls are sweetie-pies.

  • Bikemonkey says:

    ....because it is a favorite tactic of AR nutts to equate animals with black people. Yes, you can and should separate racial prejudice from any discussion of nonhuman animals, period. It's a disgusting tactic.

  • Bikemonkey says:

    Isabel, no offense but bites are objectionable *also*.

  • Lady Day says:

    @BM: The author of the piece is not an AR nut, from what I can tell. He does happen to like pit bulls, mostly because he says that he has had them as pets.

    Not every single person who points out animal abuse is an AR nut.

    And, just because he points out that there may be legislation targeting owners of these dogs in Maryland because their owners are often black (and poor - he mentions that), doesn't mean that he's equating dogs with people. He's essentially pointing out that this is yet another way a particular minority group may be unfairly targeted by law enforcement. If you extend his argument, you can see that the court ruling could basically be a way to cover up racial profiling.

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    But while we're at it:

    "Unattended switchblades and automobiles do not pose any threat, absent a person deploying them."

    It has been pointed out in this thread that pit bulls pose no threat unless someone mistreats them to make them vicious. You answered that it doesn't matter that pit bulls aren't inherently dangerous, they should be banned anyway and furthermore that we should start banning large breeds at the drop of a hat. Because they might be deployed dangerously.

    Now you write as if that were an important distinction. Do you have your story straight on anything?

    I didn't mention automobiles. But let's talk about that. Are you suggesting we might need a law that you can own a car but not drive it?

  • Lady Day says:

    In fact - although this is not the point that Lawrence Grandpre was making - I would have no qualms with saying that the same, exact sentiment that underlies anti-pit bull legislation most likely underlies sexism and racism against other folks, too. Here, the argument is that these dogs are genetically predisposed to certain behaviors and, yet, not a *single* well-controlled study has been conducted on this topic. Sure - there are plenty of retrospective analyses of news reports and some documented cases, but how can anyone separate out genetic from non-genetic effects on dog behavior based on those news reports and documents?

    How is that any different than some idiot telling me, based on his [flaky] analysis of news coverage lately, that women just aren't genetically predisposed to doing well in science or math?

    Doesn't environment count for some part of behavior?

  • Patrick says:

    For those saying "not a *single* well-controlled study has been conducted on this topic", what would you accept as an adequate study?

    Please make sure that whatever answer you give is both legally possible, as well as scientifically and financially practical.

  • Alex says:

    I dong know if a good study has been done. I just don't think DM has cited one.

    At a minimum, I would want to see the attack statistics based on something more comprehensive and official than news reports, Breed identification better than second hand descriptions (e.g. examination by a vet) and some effort to normalize for the prevalence of a breed.

  • skeptifem says:

    Wow, lots of bullshit flying around here.

    It isn't just abused pit bulls that kill. Pit bulls attack their owners, pretty often actually. I'll post a big list of cases of that, if anyone wants to comb through them.

    http://cravendesires.blogspot.com/2012/05/vintage-darwin-attacks.html

    The link also includes a video of a well fed domestic pit bull calmly mauling its owner, tail wagging. The neighbor who filmed it couldn't get to the guy to help. The police had to shoot the dog because they couldn't stop it.

    A pit bull advocate was killed by her pit bulls in her home last year. She was part of BADRAP, one of the biggest pit bull advocacy groups in the country. No word from advocates about the implications of such an attack (especially in light of their theory that it is all in how you raise the dogs). Her name is darla napora if anyone wants to look into it further. Advocates tried to dishonestly blame the death on a fall, because of how embarassing it was. She was pregnant at the time. Her husband buried her with the ashes of the dog that killed her.

    and for folks who have a problem with the animal people research demonstrating the danger of gripping dogs, here is a long and convincing response from the author of the study:

    http://blog.dogsbite.org/2011/07/animal-people-editor-responds-to-fact.html

    it is well worth reading, because it addresses common criticisms.

    These dogs are criminal commodities. They are still bred for aggression, right now. Anyone who has owned a dog that is bred for work (herding and pointing are excellent examples) knows that you do not have to train a dog for the genetic heritage to emerge. Dogs find these behaviors rewarding because they were bred to. Pit bulls cannot help that the rewarding behavior is killing other beings, but that does not mean that they should be treated as if they lack that genetic heritage. It will emerge in a certain percentage of dogs regardless of previous training.

    Every other kind of dog that has known aggression issues is treated completely differently by enthusiasts. Owners of dogs with known aggression problems typically warn the public NOT TO OBTAIN the dogs. This is the opposite of what pit bull advocates do. One example of such a warning is the "Don't Buy a Bouvier" article, by Pam Green. It doesn't lie and say the dog is like every other kind and that if you just raise them right everything will be okay. That is a lie. Owners of bouviers, akitas, wolf hybrids, etc have smartly realized that lying about the dogs will ultimately hurt the dogs, causing them to be over bred and dumped at shelters when a problem arises, ultimately many will be put down. And what a surprise- that is the exact problem with pit bulls right now.

  • Lady Day says:

    @Patrick: A well-controlled study would be raising a few litters of various purebred dogs, each, in a laboratory setting and noting behaviors of pups. Could also switch litters between mothers so that some pups are raised by different-breed mothers.

    Every dog would need plenty of outdoor space or walking and human contact to simulate a home environment.

    Could test for various types of behaviors, not just aggression.

  • skeptifem says:

    I would have no qualms with saying that the same, exact sentiment that underlies anti-pit bull legislation most likely underlies sexism and racism against other folks, too.

    Ladyday, I am guessing you are white. There is along ugly history of comparing people of color to animals, and it is offensive to continue to do so. I have seen a lot of this in the pit bull community a lot, many call it "worse than racism", they call it "breedism", as if a dog can actually experience discrimination in a way that is comparable to that of a human being.

    People can be reasonably said to control their behavior, make decisions, etc. Animals cannot. Dogs that attack aren't making a meaningful decision, they are operating on instincts. People who attack can be reasonably said to have made a decision for various reasons, including sociocultural pressures. People can also regret things that they have done. This is why it is foolish to try and compare racism or sexism to our treatment of animals. Even peter singer, who has uses "speciesism" as an argument for animal rights, has discussed how social justice isn't about equal rights, it is about equal consideration. Men don't need abortion rights, though it would make them equal it would be meaningless. Animals don't need the right to vote either. He argues that equal consideration for other beings is the measurement that should be used, and I happen to agree with him. Breedism, as an idea, is difficult to defend in light of that.

    Canines specifically can be bred to do certain kinds of work. You do not have to train the animals if they have a long genetic history of artificial selection for the task, the behavior will often (not always) emerge on its own. A sheep dog will usually herd you even if you raise and keep it as a domestic dog. The fact is that the whole point of a breed of dog is to be able to stereotype it.Of course this does not mean breed is a 100% predictor of behavior, but observations of rewarding behavior can be considered generally true of various breeds. Breeds were created to make the tast of selecting dogs for various tasks much easier.
    You are trying to say breeds are meaningless. it is difficult to imagine how they would come to be at all, if every dog was essentially a blank slate that could be made competent at *any* task. What reason would there be to selectively breed for behavior at all if it did not produce the desired results? The process of creating breeds of dogs for work wasn't a trivial task, it took a long time and the efforts of many people to accomplish the variety of dog breeds, with specialized attributes, that exist today. Have the observations of ethologists regarding dog behavior all been total lies, concocted for some unknown reason? The evolution of working dogs is something that is fairly well researched, with plenty of papers available free online.

    The soviet study of foxes and aggression demonstrate that aggression is genetically determined, at least in some canines. That may be a starting point for people who are genuinely interested in genetic information about aggression in canines.

    Also- there is a project to get official breed guidelines based off of DNA, I believe it is called the canine CODIS. pit bull groups oppose it.

  • skeptifem says:

    oh yeah, failed to mention- the behavioral component of dogs is EXACTLY WHAT WAS MODIFIED TO DOMESTICATE THEM. If it were not possible to genetically modify the behavior of dogs towards humans then they would still be wolves.

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21475022

    "As pit bulls have become more popular and their numbers have increased, so have the numbers of deaths attributable to their attacks. They now are the single breed responsible for the vast majority of deaths due to dog attacks (Table 2)."

  • capnahags says:

    Skeptifem, it's almost as though you didn't read Lady Day's posts where she repeatedly does NOT compare people of color to dogs, but then still tried to attack her for it.

    As i said over at PP's blog, and has been said by many others here: In brief, many anecdotes, zero data. You can point to all the google hits you want, or link to all the shocker stories you want, the plural of anecdote isn't data. If that was how science was performed, homeopathy would work, because it's got a lot of news stories and testimonials and accounts that says it does. There's been absolutely no effort to determine whether PBs attack with any more frequency than other dogs, or whether a higher rate (according to news reports, not studies) of bites/attacks is due to a prevalence of the breed. You're right, skeptifem, that there's a lot of bullshit flying around here, but you're the ones slinging it. Come back with some actual research, you know the kind I'm sure you'd demand if someone showed up here claiming that they had a miraculous cure for cancer or something. If you've got the compelling evidence, I'd love to see it. If not, let sleeping dogs lie and go tackle something you've actually got a case for.

  • Alex says:

    Thank you, theshortearedowl One study is not sufficient to make a point, and there are objections that could be raised, but it establishes a plausible, serious hypothesis. This is much better than "Just look at Google News!"

    Regarding socioeconomic biases, I grant that the anti-pitbull arguments might be rooted in perceptions of the people who own them. However, some of the pro-pitbull arguments, linking behavior to abuse and training, also deal in stereotypes regarding abusive owners. No, I'm not here to defend abuse, I'm just saying that not all abusers fit some sort of lower-class stereotype. One of the more dangerous dogs that I know (a German Shepherd) is owned by some well-meaning and decidedly non-stereotypical people who simply do not know how to give it the environment and training it needs to be a nice doggie. Its behavior is an entirely predictable consequence of its environment, even though its owners do not fit a stereotype.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Oh, and I am still waiting for someone to explain why these dogs are necessary? What purpose is served uniquely by pits, rotts, etc as commonly available pets?

  • Lady Day says:

    @skeptifem: Not that this is any of your business, but I'm mixed race. I am very familiar with the way that some people compare people of other races with animals.

    What I was pointing out was the *human* behavior of *stereotyping*, which occurs when humans try to point out differences between themselves and other humans, as well as for other sentient beings. This is NOT the same argument that "black folk = animals." This is the argument that "sometimes, humans tend to stereotype."

    I'm not saying that breeds are meaningless. I am saying, if you read what I've written carefully, that we don't know what's more at play here: "nurture" vs. "nature." From my experience with dogs, regardless of how they were bred to be, training and socialization can go a long way. For instance: why doesn't every hunting dog want to kill or bring home dead "prey"?

    Not sure if anyone else here has read about this, but Billie Holiday actually had a beloved pit bull (or pit mix), named "Mister." These dogs have been around as loving companions for a long time.

  • Namnezia says:

    Not that I don't agree with DM that pitbulls and such are dangerous and should not be kept as pets. But looking at the studies above, I was struck by the first one, a 15 year study of dog bite fatalities in Kentucky. The numbers are actually lower than I thought - 11. According to census statistics there are about 78 million dogs in the US, and KY has about 1.3 of the US population, so say proportionately about 1 million dogs in the state. Most bites were by pit bulls, rottweilers and german shepherds. I've read that about 1% of dogs are pitbulls, and lets say 1% for the other 2. This means that there are about 30 thousand dangerous dogs about, and lest than 1 fatality per year. I wonder if this is considered "high risk"? Granted, the study does not mention incidence of bites/non-fatal maulings.

    That being said I agree that this is a completely preventable risk, there's no reason why folks should have these potentially deadly breeds like pit bulls and german shepherds as pets. But does it mean then that we should go ahead and euthanize all pit bulls, rottweilers and german shepherds that enter animal shelters and retire from police forces or other jobs?

    Maybe we should.

  • Namnezia says:

    This conclusion is interesting too, from Sacks et al (see above):

    "Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers), other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates. Because of difficulties inherent in determining a dog's breed with certainty, enforcement of breed-specific ordinances raises constitutional and practical issues. Fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog bite injuries to humans and, therefore, should not be the primary factor driving public policy concerning dangerous dogs. Many practical alternatives to breed-specific ordinances exist and hold promise for prevention of dog bites."

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    Not sure if anyone else here has read about this, but Billie Holiday actually had a beloved pit bull (or pit mix), named "Mister."

    I understand that Ricki Lake had a completely uncomplicated home birth.

  • Lady Day says:

    @ those who cite PubMed: At least one study is retrospective. Not a *single* one of those studies gives us any information about the conditions in which the dogs involved in attacks were raised. You see that, right? Who knows what context those dogs were raised in? Some of the incidents in that last article apparently occurred when *freely roaming* dogs attacked their victims. Were they strays? Were they never socialized to be around humans? Why were they freely roaming? Shouldn't their owners be aware of leash laws?

  • But does it mean then that we should go ahead and euthanize all pit bulls, rottweilers and german shepherds that enter animal shelters and retire from police forces or other jobs?

    The issue being discussed is the Maryland court case that held pit bull owners to a strict liability standard in civil court cases for the mayhem their dogs cause. You know: making it easier for people whose property and/or persons have been damaged by pit bulls to recover compensation for those damages.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It's a SLIPPERY SLOPE PP!!!11!!!

  • Lady Day says:

    @ Isis: I'm not a home birth advocate. So, your point is? There are plenty of people who have owned pit bulls or mixes thereof, and who have never had problems with these dogs.

  • [...] single one of us has something that makes us forget our science-y (dare I say, skeptical?) self.  Drugmonkey and Physioprof are making a case study of this over at their blogs, discussing a recent Maryland [...]

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    My point is that your assertion is anectodal bullshittery. I have known plenty of people who have had uncomplicated home births. Still, the evidence tells us that they are dangerous to the total population.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Plenty of fully automatic guns have never killed a civilian.

  • Alex says:

    To be clear, my primary objection was to the "Look at Google News!" line of argument. The Pubmed line of argument is much more reasonable. I won't change my opinion immediately because somebody cites journal articles--they still need to be examined--but I find it an entirely reasonable line of argument. Seeing that there's actual research instead of "But look how many anecdotes made it into the paper!" makes me consider this a plausible thing, not a dismissible thing.

    So, kudos to theshortearedowl and "can haz pubmed", but I stand by my statement that what DM linked to was entirely unpersuasive.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Plenty of people drive home with a BAC over the legal limit without getting in a wreck.

  • Lady Day says:

    @ Alex: I agree with you. It's the *perception* of socioeconomic associations with certain activities that is key. Perception informs racism and sexism, right? When I was saying that there may be a socioeconomic basis/bias to the ruling by the Maryland court, I should have clarified that I meant *perception* was at the root of it.

    Gambling (like drug abuse), which is at the root of dog fighting, is an activity that is practiced by people of various socioeconomic backgrounds. However, and this is key to the point that Lawrence Grandpre made briefly in his article: those who end up suffering the full consequences of breaking a law usually are those who can't afford to pay for expensive lawyers.

  • Alex says:

    Right, and the evidence that they are playing with fire is not the newspaper articles on specific drunk driving incidents. It's the statistics on drunk driving vs. sober driving.

    If you say "Drunk driving is dangerous. Just google for car crashes!" I'm unimpressed. If you send me to an NIAAA study or an actuarial report or something, I agree with you.

  • Alex says:

    That was in response to DM about drunk driving.

  • capnahags says:

    Alex, the pubmed articles don't help DM's case either- if you actually read them (or the available portions anyway) they are all either inconclusive, unrelated, or say the opposite of what's being said here.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Sure it was Alex.

  • drugmonkey says:

    really ahaggs? The "opposite"? The fact that there is more than one breed tha is inherently dangerous does not falsify the thesis about one of those breeds. You will notice that there are a whole slew of breeds which do not appear with any consistency. Including high incidence breeds.

  • Lady Day says:

    @ Drugmonkey: Yes, plenty of people drive home with a BAC over the legal limit without endangering anyone's life.

    @ Isis: What's anecdote? Find me one scientific article that test whether the dog's *genetics* are more at play than the dog's training with regard to human-aggressive personality outcomes.

    We know that pit bulls are the preferred dogs for fighting for a variety of reasons, many of which may be due, entirely, to misperceptions regarding their supposed traits, which include personality, strength, stamina, loyalty to owners, etc. Another reason that pit bulls may be chosen over, say, rottweilers, could very well be the fact that they are smaller and more easily manageable in the midst of a fight than a fully-grown rottweiler. Ever think of that?

    Anyway, the point is: are dogs more susceptible to "nurture" than "nature"? Not a single study shown tests that question.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Yorkies would be even more tractable and those mofos are viciously aggressive.

  • capnahags says:

    DM, yes, the opposite, in that you are saying, or at least it was implied, that we should ban these dogs based on. . . whatever it is that you're trying to base it on. However, the studies generally say that no policy decisions should be made from the results. And where in any of those studies was there anything about "inherently dangerous" breeds?

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    I suspect you're right Lady Day. Their bite strength must be a totally nurtured trait.

    Incidence of pit bull bites at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

  • miko says:

    DM, you've been back-pedalling from 2 colossally stupid statements: 1, If you want evidence a thing is real/true/verifiable, Google that thing. 2, Courts rulings and laws are evidence-based (they are not, they are argument based).

    I think you have a valid argument and I pretty much agree with it, you just fucked up your credibility so badly. Maybe just start over. Sarcastic counter-stupidity: "plenty of people drive home with a BAC over the legal limit without getting in a wreck" is even stupider than the original stupidity it's supposedly refuting. Save it for Twitter.

    I do think it's a useful exercise to rank the myriad "inherently dangerous" shit we tolerate all around us and allocate our time, resources, and give-a-fuckitude accordingly. I can agree that pit bulls are inherently dangerous without agreeing that they are particularly dangerous relative to a ton of other shit we are doing fuck all about. I could be convinced by evidence that they are particularly dangerous, but not by this kind of argument.

  • tom says:

    I was thinking about getting a working livestock dog for protect my livestock. They can be really mean to strangers, like stay the fuck away or they can attack (depending on the particular breed of dog). How do they fit in to your worldview? Does the fact that said dogs would be working change things? (none of these are pit derived breeds...I am just curious)

  • DrugMonkey says:

    How do they fit in to your worldview?

    It provides an answer to the question "why do you need this particular dog?" and is therefore a significant advance in the discussion.

    Whether it is a sufficient answer is another matter, of course.

    DM, you've been back-pedalling from 2 colossally stupid statements: 1, If you want evidence a thing is real/true/verifiable, Google that thing.

    When did I say it was "real", "true" or "verifiable"?

    2, Courts rulings and laws are evidence-based (they are not, they are argument based).

    hahahha, I never "back-pedal" from my sarcastic statements, particularly when I myself have written blog posts like this one.

  • Lady Day says:

    @ Isis: Where in that article is bite strength measured? Also, the thing to be tested is *genetic* versus *environmental* conditions. They aren't testing that, either. No one has.

  • Lady Day says:

    @DM: Well, you could make the same argument about income, in some sense. "Why do you need that particular income"? People generally have a variety of reasons for wanting things. In the case of pet ownership, sometimes people want to own dogs that are rescued and have been abused, because they feel strongly about them. Sometimes people want to own dog breeds that they are familiar with and have fond recollections of, from their past. Sometimes people want to own dogs for protection. And, sometimes people want to own dogs for their ability to provide a service (seeing-eye dogs, for example). It's a complicated mix, as to why anyone chooses to do anything, really, including owning a particular dog.

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    The article is an addendum.

  • miko says:

    "When did I say it was "real", "true" or "verifiable"?"

    So it was your intention that we Google "pit bull attacks" to confirm the fact that there are web pages that discuss pit bull attacks and infer nothing more?

    At least I asked you to revise and resubmit.

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    I should add, a glorious addendum in support of the central thesis that pitbulls are baby killers.

  • Lady Day says:

    There's another article in The Baltimore Sun by a veterinarian with experience treating dogs in Baltimore.

    'As one of the few practitioners willing to volunteer their time to vaccinate pit bulls in neighborhood parks and rec centers throughout Baltimore City on a quarterly basis, I can attest to the loving care, concern and adoration that is exhibited by pet parents of these "bully breeds." These owners — mostly black and male, many with young children in tow — have dogs that are no different than my shepherd: protective, loud and full of energy.'

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-dogs-20120507,0,1037036.story

  • drugmonkey says:

    Lady Day-

    Many people have strong feelings about, and feel that they "need", fully automatic weapons and other military hardware. Others have very strong feelings about being able to drive their high-performance sports cars as fast as they like on our public roadways. Still others, hold strong feelings that they be permitted to operate an automobile after a couple of stiff drinks and/or after becoming intoxicated with a dizzying array of less common psychoactive drugs.

    We, as a society, have decided that their desires are trumped by other interests. Often (as you will see asserted quite vociferously on my threads on cannabis issues, for example) on the strength of evidence that is no stronger than that which suggests certain breeds of dogs pose unwarranted risks to others.

  • capnahags says:

    "We, as a society, have decided that their desires are trumped by other interests. Often (as you will see asserted quite vociferously on my threads on cannabis issues, for example) on the strength of evidence that is no stronger than that which suggests certain breeds of dogs pose unwarranted risks to others."

    So, because we make poor policy decisions due to bad evidence on some issues, we shouldn't put any special effort into making better decisions by obtaining or analyzing better data? The logic, it fails.

  • Isabel says:

    Now you've really gone off your rocker DM. Comparing those who want to legalise cannabis to defenders of pitbulls?

  • Isabel says:

    Okay I will try to parse this - maybe I misinterpreted your statement.

    "We, as a society, have decided that their desires are trumped by other interests. Often... on the strength of evidence that is no stronger"

    So, "as strong" in other words

    "than that which suggests certain breeds of dogs pose unwarranted risks to others."

    The evidence of cannabis causing harm to society is as strong as that which suggests "certain breeds of dogs pose unwarranted risks to others."

    ?????????

    ""We, as a society, have decided that their desires are trumped by other interests."

    Well maybe this is true. But those "other interests" have nothing to do with keeping innocent people safe , and a lot to do with creating a police state or protecting the profits of producers of legal drugs or...

  • Funky Fresk says:

    I suspect there is a link between aggressive pitbull owning and weed smoking.

  • drugmonkey says:

    So, because we make poor policy decisions due to bad evidence on some issues, we shouldn't put any special effort into making better decisions by obtaining or analyzing better data?

    I see no reason whatsoever to engage in any reassessment of the status of random militia yahoos getting full automatic weapons just by walking into the local "Joe's Sporting Goods". I am fairly sure that the sort of evidence being demanded by pit bull fans around these parts is not available for aforementioned random yahoos being able to own full automatic weapons.

    I am trying to elicit an explanation from you for why the ownership of any specific breed of dog is such an overwhelming need that it trumps the concerns of toddlers with intact faces and little old ladies with being still alive.

    But those "other interests" have nothing to do with keeping innocent people safe , and a lot to do with creating a police state or protecting the profits of producers of legal drugs or...

    I understand the alleged "need" of people to smoke dope a bazillion times more than I do the alleged "need" for a pitbull, Rot, GS, Dobie, etc over all of the other much more safe breeds of dogs. Why is preventing general ownership of a mere handful of the available breeds "creating a police state", Isabel?

    I even think that 2nd Amendment based arguments for full-auto gun ownership are stronger than the alleged "need" to own a pitbull.

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    There are essentially two anti-pit arguments. One can be substituted for the other to evade refutation, and they're sometimes implicit in an emotional outburst rather than stated clearly (especially the second), but I will here address them both.

    1) That pit bulls are extremely dangerous. Typically here they'll cite the high proportion of serious dog bites caused by pit bulls, and then we get to argue about whether this is caused by genetics or by a poor environment. But that's a sideshow; the proportion of dog bites caused by pit bulls does nothing to tell us how dangerous pit bulls are; suppose, for example, that next year everything else remained the same, but that there was only one serious dog bite in the entire United States. Some breed would be responsible for 100% of serious dog bites, every last one, and yet its members would be a lot safer than they are at their current lower proportion.

    Clearly, the number we want is the proportion of pit bulls which will, over their lifetimes, be responsible for serious bites. We don't have studies for that, but I think we know enough to confidently expect that, rounded to the nearest percent, that number will be 0. As has been pointed out (by an anti-pit advocate, no less), this is supported by your own PubMed cite.

    As a secondary consideration, people who know the animal well do warn that it tends to be aggressive toward other dogs, but not that it's dangerous to people. Which fits with the actual rather than paranoid fantasy version of its breed history. (I must stop here and marvel that anyone would think it was bred to be "triggered" and attack randomly at the drop of a hat. That's not just unsupported by evidence, it's wanton craziness. WHY would anyone have wanted to create such creatures?) This is a sufficient answer to all the discussion of breeding.

    2) A remarkably strong claim about risk. Namely, that there isn't any acceptable level. That a level of risk that rounds to zero is not only too much but far too much, justifying intense anger and fear. One version of this limits it to things the speaker finds frivolous; thus DM asking people who like pit bulls (or people who merely object to campaigns against folk devils) why they *need* the dogs. Another version consists in pointing out how bad it could be, if. Or it can just be stated baldly, as it has been in this thread.

    No version of it can escape self-contradiction. We all readily tolerate risks incurred (or imposed on others) for equally frivolous reasons. We must; it's around us constantly, and too much of what we want to do falls in the same category. There is no principled reason to hold pit bull ownership to a different standard; it is based on what the media tells you, or what appearances happen to be intimidating to you, or something equally arbitrary.

    If I would not want my own life scrutinized by a hostile stranger who considers my mere happiness as an unworthy justification for me to do anything, I'm bound to reject this argument.

  • drugmonkey says:

    We all readily tolerate risks ...imposed on others) for equally frivolous reasons.

    Name a half dozen please.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Clearly, the number we want is the proportion of pit bulls which will, over their lifetimes, be responsible for serious bites.

    Wrong. We want to know, out of the serious bites that occur, which are associated with breeds, with some detectable categorization of ownership style, responsibility, types of circumstances, etc. The proper denominator must be used but of course the notion of "bad owner" is impossible given the pitbull fan's inevitable owner tautology- by definition of you types, any dog which wreaks havoc had a "bad owner" who didn't "act responsibly".

  • Isabel says:

    "Why is preventing general ownership of a mere handful of the available breeds "creating a police state", Isabel? "

    I was referring to your connecting cannabis to this. What did you mean then about the interests of society? I thought you had finally seen the light and the error of your ways.

    I think all dog owners, who I find to be an arrogant bunch (especially regarding the annoyance of yapping dogs who torment neighbors), should be liable for all damages, and landlords for not following up on complaints. But I don't know why you are dragging German Shepherds into this.

  • drugmonkey says:

    what would be the full damages for

    1) yapping dogs who won't shut up

    2) dogcrap on your lawn

  • Isabel says:

    "or what appearances happen to be intimidating to you, or something equally arbitrary."

    Oh it's not at all arbitrary, and clearly many owners enjoys the intimidating effect. It is really weird of you to deny this.

    Also, the fact that media report and people are horrified by stories of maulings and killings by domestic animals is hardly arbitrary either.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I'm bound to reject this argument.

    Most selfish assholes do....which is why we have laws about shit like speeding cars, drunk driving and owning full automatic weapons.

  • Isabel says:

    "what would be the full damages for

    1) yapping dogs who won't shut up"

    No damages necessarily but the landlord should be cited for not dealing with the problem along with the dog owner if it is in a rental building. My current building's management is very strict about this thank god.

  • drugmonkey says:

    the fact that media report and people are horrified by stories of maulings and killings by domestic animals is hardly arbitrary either.

    do you ever get the feeling these pitbull enthusiasts simply do not care about pictures like these?

    I mean seriously. Something is wrong with you people.

  • drugmonkey says:

    my mere happiness as an unworthy justification for me to do anything

    Why does owning a pitbull make give you the type of "happiness" that cannot be replaced by, say, a lovely Lab...or preferably a Yorkie?

    Admit it, it's the same deepseated pathological fear so inadequacy and need to intimidate other people that motivates these pathetic assklowns who need to strut around "open carry"ing their six shooters.

  • Lady Day says:

    Yes, DM, why do so many people continue to have sex, when there are clearly horrible risks associated with this activity?

    I mean, just look at all those photos of genitalia scarred by warts or other lesions and the cancer statistics that go along with certain STDs.

    I think we should all immediately abstain from sexual activities (even kissing, as we all know where herpes comes from!), and just live our lives out in protective little bubbles, away from any and all *possible* dangers until we die.

  • pinus says:

    no sex = no continued human race.

    no pitbulls = no pitbulls. life goes on.

    or am I missing something?

  • Lady Day says:

    Yeah, well, "pinus," at least without sex the human race will be more safe for the remainder of its duration on earth. That is what counts, after all - safety from disfiguring things like dog bites, viruses, and other such horrible, nasty things. Sex may be somewhat necessary to the *propagation* of human life, but it's not necessary to human life that is already in existence. In fact, it may not even be absolutely necessary: we could just do IVF, followed by gestation in a human-like womb.

    While we're at it, let's just take away all cars. There's a huge risk for disfiguration and/or death associated with the driving of cars. Cars also kill a lot of children. And, cars are totally unnecessary to human life. We can all live without cars. It might be difficult, but we could do it.

    Let's see here: oh, maybe we should destroy all plants that cause allergies. Damn pollen. It can really impact people's health. Who needs those plants?

  • pinus says:

    oh 'lady day' I see. it is one of those 'discussions'. have fun with that.

  • Lady Day says:

    Full disclosure: I actually *am* against the ownership of firearms and cars. I think they are both associated with unnecessary risk of death.

    However, I will not be against the ownership of any breed of dog, as many dogs, of all breeds, provide faithful companionship to humans that may otherwise not have any, and that, I feel, is fundamentally important to human health.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Consenting adults, no problem. Unwanted, painful, disfiguring assault on one's person? Not so much.

    Cars? The analogy is a subset, not all cars. Even for the absolutist position they have a purpose in modern society. Dogs do not, in most applications.

  • becca says:

    We all readily tolerate risks ...imposed on others) for equally frivolous reasons.

    Name a half dozen please.

    *Ownership of SUVs
    *Ownership of guns (by people who are not members of well-regulated militias no less!)
    *Ownership of machetes/other non-kitchen/garden cutlery
    *Ownership of swimming pools, often inadequately covered/fenced (you wanna talk about a baby/toddler killer!)
    *Allowing people to opt out of vaccinations for religious reasons (others may disagree that I categorize their sky fairy as frivolous, but scientifically...)
    *Allowing your child to play football, hockey, or other contact sports (should be considered child endangerment right up there with anti-vaxers)
    And, as a bonus:
    *Cigarette smoking around other humans

    When I'm dictator of the world, all of those things are out. As will be ownership of any intact male dogs of any breed, for anyone who is not licensed by ME as a responsible breeder of dogs for work-purposes (e.g. border collies on cattle farms, not freaking hunting dogs). 97% of fatal dog bites are intact males. Pit bulls aren't the problem, males are the problem.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Nope, the only one close is the cigarettes. And I agree with a ban on those.

  • don't try to ban the fucken weede joints!

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    DM;

    1) Driving for frivolous reasons. Impaired or not, driving as such creates a risk of death for everyone in the vicinity. Being on the road makes it take longer for emergency vehicles to arrive. Burning gas adds pollution, and uses part of our limited supply of a vital resource. Note that driving to see The Avengers is tolerated just as much as driving to the hospital is; defending some driving, or the automobile as such, has no relevance to frivolous driving.

    2) Driving drowsy. Not the same as the above.

    3) What I might call memetic hazards, at the risk of causing some annoyance. Woo, for example, appeals to people who can't help having faulty reality testing or limited resources for checking claims, not to mention harming their children and even people they're not related to (through such things as weakening herd immunity). Even someone who never falls for it and doesn't have his health damaged by it is obliged to do research and think their claims through; this takes time (and for that matter calories) that could have been better used in other ways, since the work of refuting woo has already been done adequately. Free market fundamentalism provably ruins millions of lives, and has done it over and over and over throughout history. Yet we tolerate paid shills of the plutocracy seducing the electorate into voting it in yet again, with predictable and predicted results. Film of people doing stunts tempts children and teenagers into imitating what they see; they can't help the fact that their brains aren't fully developed.

    4) Pollution. Yeah, there's regulation, but pollution is only limited, not stopped. Not all frivolous, but some is. Using electricity for your own entertainment, for instance, is usually an example of this.

    5) Feeding wildlife. Even if you intend it for birds, you might be feeding racoons, which damage property, are dirty, and might become rabid.

    6) Frivolous travel, especially internationally. If we ever get a repeat of the Spanish Flu, or worse, this will be a major contributor. Yes, the odds that any given trip will be a contributor to an outbreak are much smaller than the odds of a dog biting, but the consequences would be far worse. Of course, flying to Europe is a high status activity, unlike pit bull ownership. The same is true of several other things I've listed, like driving to the symphony or turning on the light to read a novel.

    What, did you think this would be difficult?

    "Wrong. We want to know, out of the serious bites that occur..."

    You just said to ignore the base rate! I'm at a loss to answer. How did this happen? I'm genuinely curious how you could have blundered so badly.

    "Why does owning a pitbull make give you the type of "happiness" that cannot be replaced by, say, a lovely Lab...or preferably a Yorkie?"

    You've been corrected on this before. I don't own a dog, and in fact have never owned a dog, although I do like them.

    But thanks for just about admitting you think Labs should be illegal too. If someone doesn't like very nearly fully arbitrary interference in even the small details of his life -- fully arbitrary, because the bar you've set yourself is set so low -- you pull out personal insults. This really is a personal dominance thing with you, isn't it? Well, I guess a working scientist who endorses the base rate fallacy has a lot to compensate for.

    "do you ever get the feeling these pitbull enthusiasts simply do not care about pictures like these? I mean seriously. Something is wrong with you people."

    An argument made implicitly by many a prosecutor: if you aren't so outraged that your critical thinking shuts off and you feel an overwhelming need to strike the nearest target then you're heartless or otherwise morally deficient.

    Appeal to emotion, false dichotomy (ban pit bulls or allow drunk driving!), ad hominem, the base rate fallacy. These don't automatically mean you're wrong, but it's sure not a good sign.

    Isabel;

    "Oh it's not at all arbitrary, and clearly many owners enjoys the intimidating effect. It is really weird of you to deny this."

    Good thing I didn't deny it. I simply deny that an intimidating appearance has a necessary connection to genuine risk. Do you say it does?

    I'm a little disappointed no one answered my question about switchblades, etc. I was trying to test a prediction of mine. I read through a chunk of skeptifem's blog earlier and confirmed a prediction I'd made about her -- one not even that closely analogous to this topic, which pleased me. So come on guys, fess up.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It was the general you, dumbass.

    How does mentioning Labs as a "lovely" alternative mean I'm cryptically calling to ban them too? (and I notice you failed to actually answer the question.)

    notice how many of your activities have to be qualified with "frivolous"? meaning you understand there exists real purpose for those things. Pitbull ownership is *entirely* frivolous. as we've established, there are many, many other much safer breeds to provide the most obvious benefits of dog ownership. I'm looking for the margin here and so far you are failing to explain why a specific breed (which was bred for a currently *illegal* activity, btw) is necessary.

    I'm also having trouble understanding the immediate, existential threat associated with many of your nominations. I may agree with you that they are bad things, but the harms are far from acute and less clearly addressable with an immediate discontinuation of such frivolity.

    "personal dominance thing". hmm? no, I don't know you from Eve and couldn't care less about "dominating" you. more like a "getting people to stop their bullshittio and answer a question thing." also a "get people to realize their completely deranged thinking" thing but that's my quixote complex at work there....

  • Isabel says:

    Aaron, you said:

    "There is no principled reason to hold pit bull ownership to a different standard; it is based on what the media tells you, or what appearances happen to be intimidating to you, or something equally arbitrary."

    Saying "appearances that happen to be intimidating to you" does not imply in any way that you admit the dogs have an generalized intimidating appearance that is appreciated by their many of their owners.

    Even taking a wider interpretation of your statement, you are saying that non-fabricated news reports of serious maulings and gruesome killings or an (you admit now intentionally) intimidating appearance are arbitrary reasons to hold pitbull ownership to a different standard; again these are hardly arbitrary reasons.

    "I simply deny that an intimidating appearance has a necessary connection to genuine risk. Do you say it does?"

    Well that's obvious. Of course there is no *necessary* connection. But that is not what you originally said anyway.

    "do you ever get the feeling these pitbull enthusiasts simply do not care about pictures like these? "

    I love the commenter who insists that a story about a chihuahua eating a baby's face would never make the news, and if it did people would refuse to read it or otherwise consume those media sources.

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    dm;

    "It was the general you, dumbass."

    So you immediately asked me to "admit it" to someone else's state of mind? That's... not surprising, actually, coming from you. You might have won this one.

    "How does mentioning Labs as a "lovely" alternative mean I'm cryptically calling to ban them too? (and I notice you failed to actually answer the question.)"

    See, I have a memory longer than a goldfish's. Earlier you were arguing we should ban any breed that might be misused, at pretty much the first sign. You're already committed to banning all large dogs on an installment plan. Saying it should preferably be a Yorkie is pretty telling, given the context. Even Labs are too much!

    "(and I notice you failed to actually answer the question.)"

    It's not mine to answer or yours to ask.

    "notice how many of your activities have to be qualified with "frivolous"? meaning you understand there exists real purpose for those things."

    Irrelevant. We might not be able to enforce a law against frivolous driving (not that we let that stop us before), but you can get angry about it and try to create a social norm against it. But you don't, because cars don't happen to scare you. And you don't see the existential threat of a car going 55 mph? Really? You don't see the existential threat of pollution? Of plague?

    "Pitbull ownership is *entirely* frivolous."

    So what?

    "I'm looking for the margin here and so far you are failing to explain why a specific breed (which was bred for a currently *illegal* activity, btw) is necessary."

    So what? Who gave you the right to pick out certain things that can only be allowed to exist if they're necessary? And why does it matter that dogfighting is illegal? That sounds like magical contagion.

    "I may agree with you that they are bad things"

    I never said that and don't believe it.

    ""personal dominance thing". hmm? no, I don't know you from Eve and couldn't care less about "dominating" you."

    You insist that everyone's ways be fully open to your inspection and control, based on general principles so general the application is necessarily a matter of personal taste, and sputter in rage that anyone might not like it. And you say it's not about dominance because you're not interested in dominating *me personally*? I mean, you're still wrong, because I'm part of everyone, but it's weird you personalized it like that.

    "also a "get people to realize their completely deranged thinking" thing but that's my quixote complex at work there...."

    I'm not the one committing all the logical fallacies here. Maybe you should learn basic reason before you go on a crusade to clean up everyone else's thinking?

    Isabel;

    I personally don't find pit bulls intimidating. I know a lot of people do and that some folks deliberately play on that, but I get the impression you want to say more that that.

    Holding a thing to a different standard is what arbitrariness IS.

  • Lee says:

    Hey DM:
    It’s clear from the comments that the pit-bull denialists are adamant about their inalienable right to both own pit-bulls and foment douchebaggery. I would lump them in with the denialists that also promote the legalizeitmon/pigfucker/fully automatic weapon agenda. You’re never going to change their minds. Just like with the anti-vaccine crowd, a rational well-thought out explanation with credible scientific evidence means nothing to them. They would rather own their dogs that maim and kill blue hairs than to admit that pit-bulls are inherently dangerous animals that should no longer be breed and kept as pets. My only hope is that their dogs only bite their face or nipple off http://www.islingtontribune.com/news/2010/oct/student%E2%80%99s-nipple-almost-ripped-after-%E2%80%98pit-bull-type%E2%80%99-dog-unleashed-thugs-outside-patri.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    AA- you seem to be missing the apparently complex point about other dangerous dogs. It is the nomination by the pitbull denialistas of these dogs as just as bad or worse than pits that puts them on the list. You view rotts, GS, chows, etc as exoneration of the pitbull but I simply include them on the list of threats. So if you wish to argue that Labs are also dangerous dogs then by all means lets include them. It was my impression that they had a low person killing rate and baby face disfiguring rate but I could be wrong.

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    Lee;

    "Just like with the anti-vaccine crowd, a rational well-thought out explanation with credible scientific evidence means nothing to them."

    Who is pointing out the actual rate of attacks? And whose argument is made of base rate fallacy, dramatic anecdote, and moral panic?

    I'm also a proud witch denialist.

    DM;

    You don't do complexity.

    "It is the nomination by the pitbull denialistas of these dogs as just as bad or worse than pits that puts them on the list. You view rotts, GS, chows, etc as exoneration of the pitbull but I simply include them on the list of threats."

    False history, not that you care about accuracy. It was media fearmongers who put them on that list before anybody had ever thought to worry about pit bulls. Some of us just like pointing that out. Don't put moral panic about dogs on us.

    You seem proud of your urge to ban things on a hair trigger.

  • skeptifem says:

    drug monkey- labs are the most popular dogs in the country, have been for quite awhile. if they were defective there would be ample evidence of safety problems from the merrit clifton study.

  • skeptifem says:

    Cars? The analogy is a subset, not all cars. Even for the absolutist position they have a purpose in modern society. Dogs do not, in most applications.

    also, cars do not drive themselves, animals do. That is an extremely important distinction when comparing dogs to products.

    If folks really want to make a comparison to products (in order to argue about personal liberty), why don't they compare pit bulls to a product with a fatal defect rate much higher than all other comparable products? Would they want to keep something like that on the market without any additional legislation? What purpose would that serve?

  • skeptifem says:

    do you ever get the feeling these pitbull enthusiasts simply do not care about pictures like these?

    I mean seriously. Something is wrong with you people.

    nutters rationalize it away by making up stories about victims, like that they harassed the dogs or the dog wasn't really a pit or that the victim was so ignorant about what to do if a dog attacks that they worsened it, etc. Sometimes folks just straight up lie and say the injuries resulted from something other than a dog attack.

    There is a pit bull victims website designed for people to speak out without being mobbed by nutters for discussing the trauma of an attack (or witnessing the attack on a loved one). The problem is that bad.

  • Lee says:

    Aaron:

    I think Skeptifem points out the folly in your "base-rate fallacy" argument. As labs are the most popular dogs in america, then if all dogs have a likely similar percentage of douche-nozzle owners then Labradors would in fact have a greater rate of dog bite related mortality. The fact is that is not the case. Pit-bulls have a higher rate of bite related mortality than any other dog breed with a lower rate of ownership. Hence, just because you enjoy priapism associated with pit-bull ownership, doesn't mean the rest of us rational individuals should be subjected to your inherently dangerous pit-bull (p<0.05 compared to other breeds with douche-nozzle owners).

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Ok, then, Labs are good. Big dog, friendly, cuddly, plays "fetch". Can bark loudly if necessary. What else could anyone possibly* need in a dog?

    Lee be careful about rate (per dog) versus total number. You have the right of it but we're going to circle back to that distraction if we're not careful.

    *now there is a wee problem that they are so tolerant that kids who only know them get a wrong impression of dog safety and how much they can grab fur, get in the face, etc....

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    Asking for your arguments to be formally valid is a distraction? How pathetic.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    AA-

    The "so what" part is what continually escapes dog owners (yes, all of them) that liberty ends when it infringes on the rights of other people. At that point society starts making trade offs about reasonable infringements to allow someone else their pursuit of happiness. Dog owners get to "go for walks" to shit on someone else's lawn. They get to let their lifestyle choice occasionally get off leash or at leash end and interfere with other people going about their business. To "escape" and chase joggers or bicyclists, sometimes with bad results. They even get to strut their intimidation accessory around to make other people step to the other side of the street, leave the park, etc.

    The only thing that comes close for other pursuits is loud music...and that is hardly dangerous.

    Ok, maybe kids are in the same vein but again, not dangerous.

    Oh and crowing roosters....wait what? Many urban settings prohibit rooster ownership? A once per day annoyance is banned but an actual danger is not?

    Fascinating.....

    Anyway, point is that there is a huge "so what" and if you can't grasp this you have no understanding of living in a social compact. Pure selfishness.

  • Lee says:

    Fair enough DM. If you wanted to talk science to confuse the knuckle-dragging pit-bull denialists, the SIEE special emphasis panel is back. Maybe you could submit a grant on priapism induced by pit-bull ownership? On second thought the SRO would reject it in favor of a review by ICER.

  • becca says:

    My comment vanished!

    Anyway,
    Pitbulls : dogs :: subaru legacy et al : vehicles.

    Unnecessary toddler death? try your google news test on "toddler death SUV".

    Furthermore, SUVs are also always frivolous.
    Why do people want them? To look bigger. Compensation issues included.
    They are part of an arms-race to ensure you inflict the most damage in the event of a crash (occupants of SUVs are slightly more likely to die in crashes, but they're nearly 3 times likelier to kill the other driver- this is 1000 deaths per year, just from SUVs http://www.amazon.com/High-Mighty-SUVs-The-Dangerous-Vehicles/dp/1586481231#reader_1586481231). In that way, they are exactly like semi-automatic weapons.

    Look, you can always argue, like you do for pot, that "the existence of worse things being legal doesn't mean this shouldn't be illegal". And it's true, as far as it goes. If you show me that BSL leads to fewer severe dog bites (anything requiring ER attention as "severe"), I'll vote for it. If you want to require all dogs to be neutered, I'll support that (albeit I think that's key for reasons other than aggression- there's millions of dogs killed every year because we have too many. breeding in that context is irresponsible).
    But there is no way you can take a scientific analysis of the numbers and come to the conclusion "SUVs safe, pitbulls dangerous". There is no sane way to say "we MUST outlaw pits and other dangerous dogs because they pass our threshold of danger". You can only argue "they pass THIS threshold of danger, which *I* consider relevant *here look at this mauled toddler/emotional appeal to agree with my threshold*".

  • Drugmonkey says:

    becca-

    The question is of specific purpose. SUVs have one as transportation. They also have a marginal good over Prii and civics. That is, that class provides an extra value over other vehicles. This is what I am looking for when it comes to a pitbull. What is the nature of the benefit beyond frivolous personal desire and compensation for shortcomings? What marginal value is given by the pitbull over a Lab?

  • Anj says:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21450727

    Aggression in Akitas linked to genetics.

    The good news is that once you find a genetic trait, you can then work to breed an undesirable trait OUT of the population!

    YAY!

    Maybe we need to start a similar study on pit-types?

  • Lee says:

    Becca:
    You are correct the only way to objectively determine whether or not something is unnecessary is to have a metric to which it can be measured. I would argue a good measure to compare to is the frivolousness of a pit-bull. Against this rubric, SUV's, other dogs, the space shuttle program, even far right/left politicians would be deemed to have a purpose.

  • becca says:

    "That is, that class provides an extra value over other vehicles."
    Exactly as semi-automatics do over riffles. "killing people better" is considered a "value" to those sick sociopaths who drive SUVs. Except they phrase it as "safety" (just as pit denialists want them for "protection"). When it is quite clear from how they drive that what they mean is "I can drive like a selfish SOB and people will have a harder time killing me". Well I want a TANK because it has 'extra value' over your SUV! Should I be able to drive one in your school parking lot???
    You want to drive safely in snow? SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. Your 4 wheel drive does not make you safer, it makes you COCKY. This is abundantly obvious to those sharing the road with you.
    And as far as hauling goes, get a toyota pickup. Better fuel efficiency, and lower to the ground than a bunch of SUVs (the better for spotting toddlers in parking lots).

    Lee-
    SUVs are NOT more necessary than pitbulls. Bullshit. YOU just want one more != they are NECESSARY.

  • Lady Day says:

    I definitely agree with you about SUVs, becca. They are ridiculous contraptions, unless they are used for their actual, intended use (which doesn't happen in the majority of cases). Trucks are even more useful than SUVs, when it comes to hauling most things, and for transporting the family around, a simple sedan seems to work just fine.

    SUVs around here appear to be driven by stay-at-home moms, douchebag dudes, and teenagers as statement pieces.

  • Lee says:

    Becca:
    I do not want an SUV. In fact, I have a reoccurring conversation with the SO espousing the benefits of owning a passenger car. Hence, I agree that SUV's give a false since of protection to driver/passenger, are not used for their intended purpose, all the while having a large carbon footprint, hence they are frivolous. However, what is debatable is whether or not SUV's are unnecessary all together. Using the pit-bull as a reference, SUV's have value.

  • Lee says:

    BTW, I also wish people would drive vehicles from which they can see toddlers toddling or hunched blue hairs shuffling along.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    If you drive properly *and* have 4wd then it is safer. Plus the SUV hauls a full carload of people while providing cargo capacity at need. It permits off road excursions for camping, hiking, fishing and hunting. Towing capacity. All in one vehicle instead of requiring multiple ones.

    It is, in short, very easy to show the marginal value exists. You can dispute whether anyone *should* value those pursuits but the marginal value of the SUV for those pursuits is indisputable.

    It is a dog versus goldfish argument.

    Your closest analogy for the pitbull question is whether a suburban is better than a land cruiser, if there were in fact a safety differential between models of SUV which provide the same functionality (which I doubt).

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Lady Day-

    Your comment ending in "statement pieces"..... Yeah why don't you read that over a few times. Substitute "pitbull".

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Oh and becca, confirmation bias much? The demonstrably worst drivers are 1) Beemer pilots, 2) Volvo drivers of the mom demographic, 3) jacked up pickemup trucks with trucknutz idiots and 4) minivan drivers. Lately the ecophreaks driving Prii are making a *strong* showing. But I suspect that is either the dope or the conversion of #2s to Prii.

  • Isabel says:

    "Unnecessary toddler death? try your google news test on "toddler death SUV". "

    I am very familiar with these stories- they are all caused by neglect, people not supervising the kids. And like skeptifem said, SUVs don't escape their owners and drive themselves and run over the toddlers intentionally. The toddlers are left unsupervised around the car. I'm sorry, but whoever was in charge of supervising the toddlers was responsible.

    "ground than a bunch of SUVs (the better for spotting toddlers in parking lots). "

    Why the fuck are the toddlers wandering around unsupervised in parking lots??

    As far as visits to the ER, all three of my dog bites sent me there- and they were not severe. Dog bites are very deep, even a snap that doesn't bleed can lleave deep puncture wounds and the bites have to be carefully cleaned. Dogs can spread disease, which needs to be watched for. I don't know why anyone wouldn't go to the ER for an animal bite that breaks the skin.

  • Isabel says:

    btw I speak from experience before you start lecturing me- I have spent years as a nanny/babysitter driving all manner of SUVs and probably spent more time in charge of toddlers than most parents. And no children or "hunched blue hairs" were ever in danger on my watch.

  • Lady Day says:

    @DM: Here's a version of my comment over at Isis', somewhat reworked, for you to consider.

    We hear anecdotes about pit bulls and how they were bred, but do we have actual data on whether or not these dogs have been bred for aggression? The problem with these arguments, on both sides, is that there is no data confirming one view in favor of another. Sure, there are case reports and retrospective studies of various dog types involved in attacks, but none of those give us information regarding the socialization or training status of the dogs. Even family pets may not be properly socialized or trained. Nor do these reports give us information regarding the breeding of these dogs.

    Furthermore, as stated earlier, and something that you have thus far failed to address: can you tease apart the effect of training/socialization from genetics in any of the studies conducted thus far? That is why I dispute the Maryland court ruling: there is no data supporting (or not) the idea that pit bulls are *inherently* dangerous.

    Also, what’s your definition of “inherent”?

    As someone who has an aunt who regularly shows dogs of a certain breed (a type of dachshund, if you must know) at international dog shows (and wins, many times, BTW), there are a multitude of factors that go into decisions regarding breeding: pedigree and a lot of traits that can be defined as *physical* (stature, which includes musculature, bone structure, height, and weight, coat and/or eye color, etc.). Temperament is also considered, but the most often sought-after temperament for show dogs, even for many American Staffordshire Terriers, is actually non-aggressive and stable. Even the Westminster Dog Show allows these dogs into their competition. Perhaps they just don’t realize that Am Staffs are so "inherently" dangerous to humans and other dogs?

    We do not know the percentage of “pit bulls” that are bred exclusively for fighting, versus those that are bred for show, versus those that just happen along when people don’t spay or neuter their dogs and “let things happen”. So, even the breeding-for-aggression argument needs to be substantiated before anyone jumps to erroneous conclusions.

  • Lady Day says:

    @DM: SUVs are incredibly good at hauling around fatasses. Just an observation.

  • Lee says:

    Lady Day:
    I don't think anyone is going to buy the Clinton-esque rhetorical question of "what’s your definition of “inherent”?" They are or are not "inherently dangerous". A rational person will look at the argument for and against and come to the conclusion, while both are largely emotional, empirical data show a damning amount of mortality associated with one breed, pit-bull. Taking the weight of the evidence those animals are inherently dangerous and should not be kept as pets, period.

    BTW, just because your aunt shows dogs doesn't mean you have one iota of sense and ability to judge a breed either directly or by inference.

  • drugmonkey says:

    @DM: SUVs are incredibly good at hauling around fatasses. Just an observation.

    Also for hauling around the medium to larger sized dogs. Just ask Mitt Romney about that.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Even family pets may not be properly socialized or trained.

    The trouble with this is that for dog lurvers, this whole thing is entirely circular because they are in such total denial about the fundamental nature of their pets.

    In any of these discussions, whenever a dog has injured or attacked someone or another dog it is evidence of "improper" owner behavior- socialization, training, responsibility, oversight, attention..the list goes on. It is total bullshit. It is circular logic. And it is a tired excuse.

    Anyone who has ever been around dogs for any length of time, across sufficient numbers of settings can see this. They react adversely. *ALL* of them. Given the right circumstances, dogs will react in ways that are potentially dangerous to humans. They snap and bite, in defense and in offense. They chase runners and cyclists. They attempt to attack the mailman and UPS driver through the door as the owner holds it slightly open to receive the package. They chase cats and get into disagreements with other dogs.

    Whenever this happens, the owner (and other dog owners) go into full denial mode. If the skin is not broken/the dog pulls out of it just in time, oh, that's "good training". Good owner, here's a biscuit. The excuses come flying... oh, it's the spokes making a noise only dogs hear. Oh, the kid backed them into a corner, what do you expect. He's just defending his territory...and that's what we *want* him to do if a burglar comes, amirite? some blah, de blah about "doggie politics" or "dog language". god help us, even some flights of fancy about "alpha" dogs and "dominance" and "pack animals"....

    These are normal, "good" and "responsible" dog owners I'm talking about. Great folks. Some of my best friends are dog owners... But they are dog owners and that makes them insane.

    So yeah, I think your inquiry into "proper socialization" is total crap. A red herring. You can see this in the "fighting dog" descriptions of temperament on wikipedia (which were obviously edited by dog fans at that!). recommendations for "experienced" dog owners and constant "socialization" or "training" and excuse making about them being "bad in crowds" or "defensive of their territory" or some such crap gives us the window. At least some owners have a tiny bit of a clue. Because for the dogs further out on the mayhem potential side, it becomes hard to ignore. It is not possible to "socialize" these tendencies away.

    A little tiny pocket dog? well, they seem more of a joke. easier to overlook the behavior because even when it nips a kid the bite is minimal in most cases. they have a hard time getting a decent chomp through a leather shoe or even a pair of jeans. etc. So the incidents are ignored.

    The behavior, however, is the same. The effect of "good" and "bad" ownership is the same. Minimal. yes, even for Labs.

    Way I see it, the only sign of "good" ownership is the person who does not let down their vigilence and control over their animal for a single second. That makes *absolutely* sure their little lifestyle choice cannot ever get at another person.

    Those people are few and far between, despite all the protestation on the Internets.

  • Lady Day says:

    @DM: So you ARE saying that "dangerousness" or aggression is not breed-specific. Then, shouldn't the Maryland court have ruled that *all dogs* are inherently dangerous... just as *all humans* are, too?

    Should we compare the stats for child abuse, neglect, and homicide for humans versus reported dog bites in this country? What about rape statistics for women versus reported dog bites? Humans do a lot of damage to each other (and themselves), too. As far as I'm concerned, dogs are the *least* of our worries (and many probably protect kids and women from attacks, if not at the very least by barking warnings about assailants).

  • drugmonkey says:

    No, I am saying the relative impact of supposed "good" versus "bad" owner behavior is minimal compared with the danger posed by the relative tendencies and capabilities of respective breeds. As evidence most obviously in the injury and death stats.

    It is why I reject your wool-pulling denialism for what it is.

    many probably protect kids and women from attacks
    and where are your impeccable peer reviewed studies attesting to this? or even, you know, some Googled up news links?

    Humans do a lot of damage to each other (and themselves), too. As far as I'm concerned, dogs are the *least* of our worries

    Well you are wrong there. the standards for allowable liberty, autonomy and rights differ considerably between humans, living generally, and their specific desire to own pet species. there is also the fact that the existence of other as yet unsolved problems in the world is a piss poor excuse for doing nothing about one that is in front of us. otherwise we'd all just shout "rwanda, rwanda" a few times and let our own societies slide

  • Isabel says:

    "Way I see it, the only sign of "good" ownership is the person who does not let down their vigilence and control over their animal for a single second. That makes *absolutely* sure their little lifestyle choice cannot ever get at another person. "

    And this includes barking! This is a major complaint, in some districts the main complaint about neighbors. During my year+ of torture from several neighbors, all with yappers (until I finally moved) I came across all these same deluded, inconsiderate dog owners. This site was especially informative, and deals with biting and dog laws in general.

    http://www.barkingdogs.net/index.shtml

    From the section on quieting your neighbors dog:

    "People who own barking dogs tend to fall into one of three categories.

    the uninformed
    the lazy and the reluctant
    the malicious and recalcitrant

    Uninformed Dog Owners

    Sometimes a dog barks inappropriately simply because his human is uninformed. Either the owner doesn't know the dog is barking, or he doesn't know that people are suffering as a result, or he doesn't know that dogs can be bark trained, or he doesn't know specifically how to bark train a dog. Or he doesn't know that electronic collars are available that, in all probability, will quickly quiet the dog.

    If there's a barking crisis at your house, the best you can hope for is that you are dealing with an uninformed owner. If so, all you have to do is give him the information he requires and, in just a few days, he will straighten out the problem.

    My estimate is that probably five percent of barking dogs can be traced to owners who are good and decent people who will quickly quiet their dog as soon as they receive the information they need. "

    And the other 95% are assholes, yup sounds about right.

  • Lady Day says:

    @Lee: read my previous comments. Your comment is addressed by them.

    The reason I referenced my aunt showing dogs is that she's given me a lot of insight into what goes into her decision to purchase a dog for show. She's a professional at this, and knows what kinds of traits people typically look for in the "ideal" dogs for their breeds.

    On the other hand, I've grown up around a lot of rescue dogs (various kinds of purebreds and mutts), as my aunt's sister, my mother, favors rescuing dogs (over showing them), as well as, incidentally, rescuing wildlife.

    Also, I have a personal anecdote about these dogs: I happen to own a "pit bull" (a rescue and my first such dog at home), and, since then, have gotten to know many other "pit bulls" in my neighborhood. I have read up on these dogs a lot, sought advice from my veterinarian about how to handle her, and have done my absolute best to train and socialize the dog (she's actually one of the most intelligent and easist to train dogs I've ever known - extremely obedient, gentle, and sweet). So, I have some first-hand experience of these dogs. I didn't 4 years ago, and, when she first followed my husband home and we took her in (she was emaciated, and bug and worm infested; no collar/tags), we didn't really realize that she was a "pit bull." When no one came by or called to claim her, I took her to the vet to have her checked out for a chip (none) and to get her de-wormed and re-vaccinated (if she ever was vaccinated, in the first place). It was the vet who told me the dog's "breed," and, because of what I'd heard about these dogs, it scared me so much that the vet had to reassure me about the dog's nature. In fact, it was the vet who told me that she sees numerous pit bulls at her clinic, and that all of the pits she's encountered are extremely good-natured (of course, her clinic is in an affluent area of town, so, probably, she sees the most pampered pets, but I digress). Anyway, we thought about placing her in a good home or giving her to a rescue, but I realized, in the end, that I really didn't trust just anyone to take her. How would we know that she would be in good hands? That, even if she couldn't be bred (because we spayed her), that she wouldn't end up fighting or being used as a bait/practice dog? Or that she wouldn't just end up being taken to a shelter (here, the shelters automatically euthanize any dogs suspected to be pit bull or pit mix)?

    I don't recommend pit bulls for people who are unfamiliar with dogs (especially for people who are misinformed about them) or for people who can't handle the energy and strength of medium-to-large size dogs. However, the same thing goes for any other dog. I don't see any difference between this dog that I currently own (or any of the other sweet pit bulls I now know) and any of the other dogs I grew up with, in terms of "aggression". If anything, she's actually the most dog- and cat-friendly dogs I've known. She's a little more shy of some people and children, but has never shown aggression.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I have a personal anecdote about these dogs: I happen to own a "pit bull"

    Imagine my surprise....

  • spit says:

    Honestly, the most common bites are from dachshunds, chihuahuas, and the herding breeds (border collies, etc.)

    Bites from pits (and rotties, etc) tend to be more serious medical situations, so they're more commonly recorded. But chihuahuas are some vicious little bastards. I say that with love and affection, mind.

    I have trained a lot of animals. For pay, even. That's not to say I know everything, but I sure know more than a lot of people posting here. Most of what's on this page full of comments is such utter BS I can hardly type much of a coherent response. Nuance sure ain't some folks' strong suit.

    Yes, dog behavior includes some behavior that can be dangerous, especially if those tendencies aren't countered by any strong and conscious work in socialization. Yes, breed matters some in defining some of the tendencies one must work with in this regard. Yes, it is important to be conscious of the limits and the levels of danger involved with any dog, due to its breed tendencies, temperament, medical condition, history, so on. At all times, always. Just like with any other animal for whom one is responsible.

    But the leap of logic involved in "pit bulls are meanies, the court says so it must be true, plus TEH GOOGLE" is absolutely disturbing to find on a SCIENCE BLOG.

    Pit bulls are a very common dog, and pit mixes even moreso. The vastest vast majority of pits will never cause any harm. You can't just say "all these bites, look, pits!" if you don't account for the populations of various breeds and the chances of the bites being serious _as a matter of size_, which is different from being caused via aggression. I'm not joking, a lot of chihuahuas are seriously aggressive. Ultimately, no, they're not usually dangerous bites, but if your point is about aggressive biting behavior, understand that _most bites go unreported_ if they don't require a trip to the ER. That complicates your data even if you were accounting for population sizes, which you weren't.

    The bites that do happen have complex reasons that usually encompass all sorts of issues. Pit owners -- like owners of any breed that tends toward heavy physical response to stressful stimuli, there are lots of these breeds but most are less common -- need to be realistic about their dogs, and need to understand dog behavior well enough to get better at seeing the problems coming. Because despite popular belief, somebody who knows dog behavior can almost always see it coming, both in the medium term behavioral trajectory and the right-before-they-bite.

    This isn't a yes/no, as far as I'm concerned, just like any animal behavior -- including human behavior -- is complex. But if you want to argue it as that clear cut, please at least don't make arguments based on logic that would get most of us laughed out of an undergraduate science course.

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    DM;

    You might prefer a social compact under which everything that offends your aesthetic sensibilities is forbidden, but I'm guessing few others do. Even jurisdictions which ban pit bulls outright don't codify "ew, dogs are gross!" into law. Does your social compact have any room for democracy, or does that go the way of personal freedom?

  • drugmonkey says:

    everything that offends your aesthetic sensibilities is forbidden

    nice try. It has been thoroughly established (look even spit testifies to the central point, even as s/he tries to excuse pits!) that they are dangerous. it is not an "aesthetic" sensibility it is a safety sensibility.

    Did you see me calling for harsh punishment for those who let their dogs crap on someone else's lawn? no. I used this explicitly to discuss the issue of tradeoffs between people's right to pursue their frivolous hobbies / lifestyle choices and the impact those choices and hobbies have on other people. The dog crapping issue is, clearly, a tolerable violation of others' rights. Biting is not.

  • Funky Fresk says:

    If every dog crapped the same generally harmless craps, then yes. But, if one dog put down 6 ft wide turds, then that dog should be classified as inherently dangerous, regardless of how frequently it craps.

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    Also, I have a personal anecdote about these dogs: I happen to own a "pit bull"

    FINALLY!!!!! This explains everything!!!!

  • DRK says:

    1. There is no specific breed called "pit bull". There are several breeds, and there are dogs who are mutts who look pit-bullish. When you say you want to ban pit bulls, exactly what do you want to ban? How would you write this law? How would "pit-bullness" be determined? And is it possible that the reason that these bully breeds have the highest rate of fatal bites is because several breeds, and mutts with small eyes, powerful builds, and blunt noses, are all mishmoshed together in one category?

    2. Given that a high percentage of dogs in shelters have pit bullness somewhere in their ancestry, isn't it possible that many of the people who own these dogs, do so because they went to the shelter and picked out a dog they liked? Not because they get off on having a tough dog, but just because they saw a cute puppy and wanted to give it a home? Assuming that all pit bull owners are jerks seems pretty sweeping and unscientific.

    3. All that said, personally I go for Basset Hounds; they are laid back and dumb. The perfect dog, as far as I'm concerned. But even they have large razor sharp teeth which could presumably take someone's arm off. Should they be banned, too? Poms, dachsunds, Yorkies have killed people. And don't get me started on cats and their aggressiveness and toxic bites. Cats kill a few people a year as well. Where do you draw the line?

  • spit says:

    Pfft. Don't misrepresent me to make your point. Dogs have some behavior that can be dangerous if it isn't addressed properly. The same is true in any number of animals. Cat scratches are no small health matter, by the way, should we outlaw them, too?

    Dog owners don't know what the hell they're doing a lot of the time, and dogs with no training or socialization can -- but only sometimes do -- become dangerous to some people in some situations. That doesn't make them inherently much of anything, except for inherently not just like Benji.

    I'm not "excusing" anything. It doesn't need my excuses. It's animal behavior. It isn't set in stone, and it isn't no big deal either, it's simply there to be considered and worked with if one likes dogs and wants to live with them.

    It has _not_ been thoroughly established that they "are" dangerous, any more than it has been thoroughly established that 15 year old male humans "are" dangerous because _some_ of them can be pretty violent depending on the circumstances. Not established, let me repeat. Not, no matter how many times you make that assertion.

    Animal behavior is complex.

  • spit says:

    Sigh. Anybody who owns a pit bull must immediately be completely biased, I guess. Because the unbiased logical skillz of those who don't are crystal clear here.

    Jeebus. What a waste of time.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Poms, dachsunds, Yorkies have killed people.

    Links please.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Anybody who owns a pit bull must immediately be completely biased, I guess.

    They don't have to be....they just are. I'd be happy to see a pit bull owner comment with a full and clear admission of the facts as they have been established. Not clear it can be done. Kinda like getting someone with a deep religious conviction to admit there's no God....

  • drugmonkey says:

    There is no specific breed called "pit bull".

    god you people are predictable.... although I didn't think it would take so long to get my D1.....

  • Aaron Armitage says:

    DM;

    "nice try. It has been thoroughly established (look even spit testifies to the central point, even as s/he tries to excuse pits!) that they are dangerous."

    So we circle back to the first argument, which as you will recall is already conclusively refuted for those of us who don't believe in special exceptions for the rules of logic when our personal distastes are involved. I guess that's a sign we've beaten the second argument to death for the time being; kind of embarrassing that the insufferable busybodies can't agree on whether to hate SUVs or "pickemups", perhaps.

    "it is not an "aesthetic" sensibility it is a safety sensibility."

    Oh bullshit. We've been over this before and you're wrong. Please accept the obvious for once.

  • becca says:

    "If you drive properly *and* have 4wd then it is safer. "
    And where is the data to suggest that people actually *do* drive properly?
    People drive faster in SUVs...
    http://eprints.qut.edu.au/6229/2/6229.pdf
    I suspect if you look at wet/snowy weather conditions, the phenomenon would just be that much more pronounced.

    I don't know if carsharing has come to your town, but the perception that you need one vehicle to do EVERYTHING you could ever want to do is batshit. Would you drive around a Uhaul to get your kids from soccer just because you MIGHT need it to move your entire household?

    The reason people pay for SUVs is because they are buying into the marketing. They are not "sport utility vehicles" they are "big trucks", and not particularly useful ones at that. In my area, 90% of people do NOT use them for sports, or hauling things, or anything else you couldn't use a smartcar for.
    It's like wanting a 6 bedroom 5 bath house for 2 people. Do those extra rooms have utility? Sure, in theory. In practice? not so much. But I got no real beef with that, unless it's somehow killing 1000 people a year.

    Are there people who actually use SUVs? Sure. The large-animal vet in New Mexico who was constantly offroad and needed to haul patients around for her job was the classic example I could accept. But are there people who use pitbulls? A-yup. You can find an occasional pitbull in K-9 service, or even as seeing eye dogs. Those are not reasons the average person should be allowed to have one.

    Isabel- Why don't you come meet my toddler? You can "supervise" all you want, the trouble is when you need to hold 35 lbs of screaming writhing agony and hope he can't kick you in the face and run out into the street before you can stop them (this has actually happened). Toddlers can be completely insane and shockingly strong. Much like a rabid pitbull, actually.

    And there's a good chance he's only undamaged because most drivers do pay attention. Of course, technically that's true of most of us many times over- we don't realize how close we come to death until we see an accident where somebody simply *doesn't* stop at a red light. *shudder*

    Many cases of toddler deaths may be poor supervision, but some are kids *running out into the street quicker than they can be chased down*.

    And I do see your point about 'severe'- though as a microbiologist all deep wounds sound severe to me.

  • spit says:

    "I'd be happy to see a pit bull owner comment with a full and clear admission of the facts as they have been established. "

    Riiight. Something tells me you'd only be happy to see a pit bull owner comment with a full and clear admission that you are absolutely correct on all counts, that your "facts" are 100% perfect, and that your logic is impeccable. Otherwise, they're clearly biased.

  • Isabel says:

    Becca,

    I would be happy to give you advice sometime on how to control (maybe a better word) your toddler. I am a genius at it, and have had many more years experience at driving around with babies and toddlers (sometimes several at once) than you have. Including some real "problem" children. please don't play the "my kid is different and you just don't understand what toddlers are like" game with me.

    I used to run a home day care in a large city where I had to walk 4-5 kids to the park every day crossing streets etc and if any kid bolted once, they didn't get far and never did it again. Seriously, I should give lessons.

    "Many cases of toddler deaths may be poor supervision, but some are kids *running out into the street quicker than they can be chased down*. "

    With older kids maybe, but toddlers?? I have a weird anxiety driven obsession with these stories, and always read the details and they are *always* because a toddler is left unsupervised in a driveway or parking lot. Meanwhile the driver of the car is traumatized for life. I do agree that all cars should have sensors or something.

    "And I do see your point about 'severe'- though as a microbiologist all deep wounds sound severe to me."

    According to the ER technician who treated my rhodesian ridgeback bite, even the quick snaps go deep and often stop only at the bone where the bacteria from the animal's mouth ends up. He washed the wound with something like a water pick for an excruciatingly long time.

  • Where did all this "banning" shitte come from, anyway? As far as I am aware, this is a discussion of a Maryland court case that simply made it a little easier for people who suffer damages from the mayhem caused by a pit bull to recover compensation from the owner. You know: pay for shit your dog fuckes uppe. Personally, I'd like to see this strict liability applied to all dogs.

  • Lee says:

    CPP maybe this is the first step that ends with owners of "inherently dangerous" dogs paying higher home owner's insurance premiums. I think this would be reasonable because the dogs have a greater potential to harm and would present a greater liability.

  • drugmonkey says:

    A-yup. You can find an occasional pitbull in K-9 service, or even as seeing eye dogs.

    ahh, *finally*. so you are asserting that the pitbull is uniquely qualified as seeing eye dog? yeah, that's bullshit. K-9 service I can see.

    Point being that despite your assessment of "most" SUV drivers, the fraction of users who use them for general purposes as I point out are much higher than the "seeing eye dog" and k-9 users of pitbulls. car share would be nice but I doubt very much that the contracts permit the kind of abuse and risk that is entailed in using your SUV to haul concrete block, tile and to go biking and hiking in the way-out-of-the-way that requires the 4wd in the first place. so you are quite wrong, my car bigot friend.

    some are kids *running out into the street quicker than they can be chased down*.

    proper training and constant socialization totally prevents this from happening.

    you'd only be happy to see a pit bull owner comment with a full and clear admission that you are absolutely correct on all counts

    I'm easy, I'll take recognition of the damage they cause and that this cannot be prevented by some bullshit "training" as a starter. maybe an admission that it is indeed a lifestyle choice that has consequences for innocent strangers would be nice too.

    Where did all this "banning" shitte come from, anyway?

    The NRA playbook. Any attempt to enact reasonable restriction or require responsibility is met with a bunch of "Ur takinz our freedoms!!!!" hysteria.

  • Lady Day says:

    @DM and Isis: I already mentioned this on DM's blog and at CPP's.

    I hear they're breeding pits that show selective aggression against douchebag SUV drivers....

  • Lady Day says:

    @CPP: The problem is this (text from ruling):

    'With the standard we establish today (which is to be applied in this case on remand), when an owner or a landlord is proven to have knowledge of the presence of a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull (as both the owner and landlord did in this case) or should have had such knowledge, a prima facie case is established. It is not necessary that the landlord (or the pit bull’s owner) have actual knowledge that the specific pit bull involved is dangerous. Because of its aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflict serious and sometimes fatal injuries, pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are inherently dangerous.'

    So, people who own pit bulls that have never shown *any* aggression previously may now be under pressure to either 1.) find a new place to live, if their landlord doesn't want them around because of the liability of simply *having* such a dog on premises and the owner doesn't want to get rid of his/her beloved companion(s), or 2.) get rid of their dog(s) because their landlord doesn't want the liability of such a dog on premises.

    It allows for discrimination against those who simply *own* pit bulls and who rent their abodes. Who are those people more likely to be? We've already established some observations of the population likely to be affected, preferentially, by the ruling.

  • DRK says:

    http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/images/dogbreeds-a.pdf

    Yorkie and Dachshund-caused deaths on page 838.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2000/oct/09/local/me-34015

    Baby killed by a Pomeranian.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163445387926533
    Cat bite fatality

    Glad I could help you with your little bingo card, but you didn't really address any of my questions. And I think you're stretching it. What is a pit bull? Is it like pornography, and you know it when you see it? I didn't say pit bulls didn't kill people, I said that any number of breeds could be considered pit bulls, and just how do you propose to write your ban in such a way as to remove any dog you consider a pit bull? And would it really solve this problem of dogs biting people? From 1979-1980, Great Danes were the breed that caused the most fatalities; from 1975 to 1980 it was German Shepherds.Now they've decided to roll a bunch of breeds up into one giant classification and declared them to be the problem. Andy maybe they are, but without some way to identify these breeds, how would you pass a law against them? it's hard to see how this Maryland law will work, because of this problem.

    Again, just what is a pit bull?

  • capnahags says:

    "ahh, *finally*. so you are asserting that the pitbull is uniquely qualified as seeing eye dog? yeah, that's bullshit. K-9 service I can see."

    Where did he assert even once that a pitbull is "uniquely qualified?" If you can't even make a single point without strawmen, quotemines, or torturing others' words, you suck at arguing. And you have proved this over and over and over again. You repeatedly fall back on appeals to emotion, appeals to incredulity, non sequiters, and moving the goalposts. You are absolutely terrible at actually proving your point without tripping over yourself with absurd fallacies. It goes from "prove pitbulls AREN'T dangerous" (something that doesn't need to be disproven until you prove it's true- sensational news articles don't count) to "prove that you have a compelling need to own one." And if you really think that every single pit bull is some sort of ticking time bomb, as you imply here

    "I'm easy, I'll take recognition of the damage they cause and that this cannot be prevented by some bullshit "training" as a starter"
    Then you are absolutely hysterical. The media panic generated by 1 or 2 shark attacks in summer does not begin to approach the level of insane, throw logic out the window blindness you've exhibited here, and you should be ashamed of yourself. And full disclosure, I don't own a pitbull, and probably never will, nor any other kind of animal. However, I do like border terriers, so I guess that makes every post I've put up somehow flawed and invalid.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Yorkies, Poms and wiener dogs, gotcha. add them in.

    What kind of cat was it?

  • capnahags says:

    Wait slight edit on my previous post- I do own and may continue to own fish. I'm sure this makes me biased of course, but in the interests of disclosure. . .

  • drugmonkey says:

    Piranha ?

  • skeptifem says:

    DRK

    There are deaths from other kinds of dogs. Look at how disproprotionately the death toll falls on pit bulls:

    http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-study-dog-attacks-and-maimings-merritt-clifton.php

    You are comparing a knife to an assault rifle.

  • lee says:

    Ladyday:
    Landlords limit all kinds of things from whether or not you can have pets and what kind down to number of fatass toting SUV's you can park on the premises. So, whining about a landlords ability to put the kibosh on you living in a home that they own for "simply *having* such a dog on premises" seems to be within reason. I know I wouldn't want the liability of a tenant with an inherently dangerous dog.

  • skeptifem says:

    A-yup. You can find an occasional pitbull in K-9 service, or even as seeing eye dogs.

    "find" them how? See one with a vest on? Because people on pit bull boards discuss how they can use the ADA to get around breed specific legislation. Pit owners say "fuck you" to communities that vote the dogs out, they look for any way to keep their dog because their wish to own a certain breed of dog is so much more important than what anyone else in the community wants. It is apparently especially easy in california, with pit owners using the law so that they can take their pit bulls into businesses where dogs are not otherwise welcome.

    No one can ask you to prove your disability or that your dog is qualified. Other people get their dogs "cerfitied" as therapy dogs (if they do anything at all beforehand) and put the vests on. I haven't seen anyone who actually trains seeing eye dogs using pit bulls. Such a dog attacked a police horse in san francisco a few years back:

    http://dogsinservice.blogspot.com/p/pit-bull-servicetherapy-dogs.html

    ^^This link shows other attacks from pit bulls used for therapy or disability.

  • lee says:

    Capnahags:
    I was nose bumped by a 3 foot shark once while swimming in the ocean off of NC. I don't think it's media hysterics to characterize that as serious.

  • skeptifem says:

    Ladyday:
    Landlords limit all kinds of things from whether or not you can have pets and what kind down to number of fatass toting SUV's you can park on the premises. So, whining about a landlords ability to put the kibosh on you living in a home that they own for "simply *having* such a dog on premises" seems to be within reason. I know I wouldn't want the liability of a tenant with an inherently dangerous dog.

    Oh yes, that reminds me, insurance companies must be in on the big conspiracy against pit bulls too, because they charge higher rates for households with fighting dogs, if they will insure them at all. It couldn't possibly be that the actual level of risk is higher though!

  • Lab Rockstar says:

    What I haven't heard mentioned in any of these threads is the fact that most (80%, according to the Humane Society) of dog bites are inflicted by non-altered dogs. When you look at fatal bites only, that figure goes up to more like 90-100% (depending on the data source). It's crappy to blame the dog type that is responsible for ~50% of all bites when there's an owner negligence factor responsible for at least ~90%.

    And don't even tell me that spaying and neutering a non-breeder family pet is a personal choice, unless you want to hear a spectacularly well-informed tirade. Installing truck balls on your bumper is a personal choice. Not reducing the chances of your pet acting in a way that results in court-ordered euthanasia is neglect.

  • Lady Day says:

    @Lee: That's not what I was arguing. The problem is that landlords may *change the rules* they want *current* tenants to abide by, in order to avoid liability.

    When you rent a property, there are rules that you have to agree to, up front. I have no problem with that. The problem is that Elderly Henry who lives in one of Baltimore's many rented row houses may own a pit bull-like dog that he's had for 10 years. That dog is Elderly Henry's best buddy - things are lonely for E.H. since the kids left town and the dog is his main companion, most days, as he can't get around by car too much, anymore. So, E.H.'s landlord decides that the pit bull-like dog is too much liability (and, really, defining a dog as a pit bull or pit mix can be completely arbitrary, as it's not a "breed"), and asks E.H. to give up his dog or move. That's a problem. E.H. may experience a dramatic decrease in the quality of his life because he's losing his best buddy, if he has to get rid of the dog. Or, E.H. may end up having to make a home elsewhere, which may not be in an optimal location for him and may likely be difficult for him to do (moving can be hard on folks).

    Obviously, Lee, this is a problem.

  • Lady Day says:

    @Lee: Here's another one, based on someone I once knew.

    Sally is 15 and confined to a wheelchair. Her family rents a row house in Baltimore, and, 5 years ago, they decided to get a dog, which Sally absolutely loves and lavishes attention upon. Sally has found that when she takes her dog out with her, people stop and talk to her more often. She feels more accepted by society because of this.

    One of their neighbors notices that the dog that Sally loves so much is pit bull-like in appearance. The dog has no papers to show its pedigree. Sally's family couldn't afford to buy a purebred dog with papers.

    Sally's parents get a call from their landlady. Buster has to go because, even though Buster has absolutely NO history of violence, he has become a liability.

    Sally is heartbroken. She even thinks of Buster as a friend. Will Buster be sent to a shelter, where he may be euthanized, will Buster be given away to someone else, or will her parents try to find another place to live, which may be difficult for them to do if they like their current place for location and convenience and cost of rent.

  • drugmonkey says:

    You know who gets really "heartbroken"? Parents who had a toddler get radically and permanently disfigured by a pitbull. Also, the people who had a relative killed by a pitbull. That's who I feel sorriest for.

  • Lady Day says:

    @DM: I feel sorry for them, too. This isn't a competition between the 2 sides. I just wanted to point out that there is a humane issue for "the other side."

    This is about what's appropriate. There are a couple of reasons why the Maryland court ruling is bad, from both legal and humane standpoints: it's too general (that pit bulls are "inherently dangerous" hasn't been proven or disproven anywhere, the exact definition of a "pit bull" or "cross-bred pit bull" is not known, and the dogs don't even have to have a history of aggression to be considered a liability) and it targets people disproportionately (via the added pressure of landlord responsibility). That is a problematic ruling. In fact, it may not even really solve any problems. What if all of the former pit owners decide to adopt rottweilers, instead?

    Now, if the ruling was about proven aggressive dogs, in general, and if it put pressure on owners of aggressive dogs, only, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

  • Funky Fresh says:

    Sally is 15 and confined to a wheelchair...

    Riiiiiiiiiight. Sure she is.

  • capnahags says:

    No, actually cichlids. Skeptifem, I'm inclined to be a bit skeptical of statistics from a website called "dogsbite," and when you look into it, their statistics come from media reports. Let's let that sink in for a minute. It actually makes a near-perfect analogy to shark bites. If you look at media reports of shark incidents, there are probably hundreds of stories, or at least dozens, every summer, yet the actual number of fatal attacks is about ten. Yet rarely do stories about the large number of children and adults dying from drowning make the news, and I'm not really sure why- probably for the same reason car crashes don't often make the news. It's a regular occurrence. The media has the perception that all pit bulls are vicious killers, and so when one injures someone, it's national news. (http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/advocacy-center/animal-laws-about-the-issues/pit-bull-bias-in-the-media.aspx while this is not a perfect source, it's just as scientific as yours) But when other kinds of dogs kill or injure someone, the perception is that it's out of the ordinary, so it's ignored.

    And skeptifem, do you think that insurance companies actually went through the data available and made a calculated decision, or do you think it's just easier to exclude the majority of larger and more energetic breeds from the covered list?

    Lee, I can't tell if you're being serious here. If so, this is addressed to you and DM. I think for some reason you have the impression that those defending pit bulls just don't care about people attacked by dogs, and we're just cold and heartless or whatever. That's wrong; of course I care, and would like to reduce that number, and to suggest otherwise is misrepresenting me. But to suggest that something is a serious problem, based solely on the shittiness of your personal experience, is not necessarily a logical argument. Of course dog attacks can be terrible. But that doesn't mean that systemically there's an enormous problem with them, because these incidents are still incredibly rare. To then try and base policy off of them is not the way to go about things.

    And, icing on the cake, here is a comprehensive report on every single dog-bite fatality in 2010, where breeds where determined when possible, and the circumstances in which the dogs were kept were documented, and all that jazz. You'll notice that the majority of the incidents involved "resident" dogs, which are dogs kept not as pets but rather isolated from humans. Also note that in several incidents, media reports claimed the dogs were pit bulls when in fact they were either not pit bulls or no identification could be made.

    http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/uploaded_files/tinymce/2010%20DBRF%20Report%20FINAL_1.pdf

  • Isabel says:

    Sally is 15 and confined to a wheelchair. However she is pretty independent and gets around fine on her own. One day she zips down the driveway to the mailbox, and just as she's pulling the mail out of the box, her neighbor's pitbull breaks through the fence and....

    Lady Day disingenuously likes to ignore the fact that the neighbors of these low SES owners are in the same boat, and have fewer resources to protect themselves from the dogs with gated communities etc. I suspect the status of victims closely mirrors that of the owners in attacks- why wouldn't it?

  • Lady Day says:

    Ever been to Baltimore, Isabel?

  • capnahags says:

    After reading through the report: Of the 33 dog-related fatalities in 2010, the media claimed the dogs involved in 20 of them were pit bulls.
    Of the 20 reported as pit bulls:
    2 (10%) were definitively determined to be pit bulls.
    2 (10%) were definitively NOT pit bulls.
    4 (20%) did not provide any evidence used to confirm the breed of dog.
    8 (40%) provided only photographs of the dogs, which were inconclusive as to breed
    2 (10%) incidents involved multiple dogs with varying identifications, all inconclusive, including descriptions such as "pit bulls," "pit bull mixes," "akita mixes," and "shelty-collie mixes."
    2 (10%) incidents were reported as pit bulls but the dogs involved in the incidents were never located.

    As was mentioned above as well, in only 4 of the 33 fatalities was the dog involved spayed or neutered.

    So, even if given the benefit of the doubt with the dogs whose pictures were provided, and assuming they were all pit bulls, the media was wrong half the time when it came to calling dogs pit bulls, and was in fact totally wrong in 20% of the cases by calling dogs pit bulls that were determined not to be or were never located.

    But I'm sure that somehow the media is better at determining breed based on scant evidence than, you know, people who went to school for years to specifically study these kinds of things.

  • Isabel says:

    "Ever been to Baltimore, Isabel?"

    No, but I've seen all of John Water's films. Does that count? :)

    wtf is your point?? What does this obnoxious question have to do with my point that victims and owners are probably from the same SES?

    "As was mentioned above as well, in only 4 of the 33 fatalities was the dog involved spayed or neutered."

    This point, which has been made several times, is a good one.

  • Alex says:

    Capnahags, why are you examining the methodology to see if the conclusions are justified? WE HAVE DEAD CHILDREN HERE! When people are hurt, the last thing you want to do is think about whether the actions you're taking in response make any sense.

  • Lady Day says:

    @Isabel: What you're saying is, essentially: "poor people are likely to raise dogs that injure other poor people." Not everyone from a lower socioeconomic bracket fights dogs.

    Baltimore has a pretty dangerous reputation. A friend of mine, a medical resident at JHU, told me that, regardless of apartment type, there are strange murders there all the time. An example: one of her friends lives in a luxury apartment (thinking it's safe). At two different times last year, bodies were found thrown down the garbage chutes in the building. One was a student, and I can't remember what the other person was. My friend chose to live in less luxurious conditions, and at her bus stop, 2 people were gunned down last year, on 2 separate occasions. It matters not where you live or one's SES. Some Baltimore residents may own pit-like dogs thinking they will be getting some sort of protection having the dogs around, on top of the companionship.

  • Lady Day says:

    Let me add that having a dog for protection does not mean that the dog is trained to attack. Some people get dogs for protection because dogs are great at detecting abnormal sounds/activity and *barking*. Pit bulls may look a little more threatening, even if they are sweet-natured dogs. Their supposed reputation precedes them, and that may be enough to scare some people with bad intentions away. So, that *may* be one consideration that folks have when getting pit bulls or other perceived "dangerous" dogs.

    Just another anecdote, but another friend of mine who used to teach high school kids once told me that some of the kids in her classes who confessed to the occasional breaking-and-entering of private property told her that they avoided breaking into homes with dogs, as the dogs barked a lot and would make "too much noise."

    So, dogs, even if they are not trained to be violent, can be viewed as protection. Where I currently live - a gentrifying extremely urban neighborhood in a very large city - I definitely feel more safe having a dog around the place. 2 years ago, someone broke into my car, which was parked on the street, and she heard it and barked her head off. My husband and I ignored her (even though she's not really a dog that barks much), only to find one of my car windows smashed in the next morning. She's great - next time we're listening to her when she barks! I know I would never walk in the parks around here alone unless I had her with me, too. Back home, it was different - I could go hiking by myself in some places. Not here. I really miss being outside, so she gives me the ability to go walking without too much worry if my husband can't make it to walk with me.

    The other side of this issue is that pit bulls, in some areas, appear to be the dominant dog type. It is where I currently live. Where I grew up, pit bulls were scarce, but labs were the dominant dog type. So, when people adopt dogs, they may be more likely to get dogs of the dominant type than they are of other types/breeds. So, maybe that is why some people have pit bulls or pit mixes - there's not much choice (unless they want to spend a lot of money on a purebred).

  • drugmonkey says:

    Anyone who has to go to school "for years" to pick out a pitbull is hardly bright enough to bother listening to.

  • Lady Day says:

    @Isabel - Correction to this statement: "Not everyone from a lower socioeconomic bracket fights dogs."

    That should read: "Not everyone who fights dogs comes from a lower socioeconomic bracket."

    The stuff about Baltimore was to give you an idea of how dangerous it can be there and why, perhaps, some people may have dogs which they think are capable of guarding their property (and which are not necessarily trained to be aggressive).

  • becca says:

    Isabel and DM- I actually would be interested in your toddler wrangling tips.
    Also, for the sake of clarity, no I don't think my kid is not unique. He is a bit unusually strong and a bit unusually foolhardy/brave (or so random strangers always tell me when they see him do things like climb fences). But I can't be the only one that has this problem.
    At the same time, it's important to be clear about what standards I'm setting. I am recognizing that even if 90% of the time my kid stops before he runs out into the street, and if 95% of the time he doesn't stop I can grab him in time, that doesn't mean it's impossible for him to run out in front of a car before I can stop him.

    And Isabel, keep in mind that reporters are subject to the same problem everyone else is- 'Just World Bias' (i.e. the world HAS to be fair!). That is, we all want to hear about tragedies that can only happen to other people... so you read news articles about adjuncts on food stamps, but only if they studied medieval history. And articles about toddlers dying in parking lots, but only if their parents weren't watching them. And a zillion articles about rape, but only if we get to discuss what the victims were wearing! In the best possible light, writers want to give people a little bit of hope/an action item for how they can stay safe. In the worst possible light, we are all capable of making fundamental attribution errors in the most destructive way, and we all seek a myriad of ways to blame victims so we can cling to an illusion of perfect safety.

    skeptifem- my point is, some dogs of any breed are currently in existence are actually being used for an obvious societal good, but it's an incredibly slim minority.

    I'd be very happy if we spayed/neutered the service dogs, and rounded up and ate all pets. ALL of them. Toy poodles, labs, pits... I don't care. They are all incredibly frivolous.
    BUT... the *policy* I want to advocate for is much more modest- I just want all dogs spayed/neutered and owners held legally liable for damage done by any dog over 20 lbs. Including situations where kids 'taunt' or 'torment' the dogs- if the damage done is greater than that done by a small dog, just because you wanted a large dog, you are liable.

    There is also a very small percentage of SUVs that are actually used for hauling things (other than spawn and pets) on a regular basis or actually offroad for needed purposes. I'd be very happy if we retrofitted those to use biodisel and encased every other SUV in the world in cement.

    BUT... the *policy* I want to advocate is much more modest- I just want to tax new SUV purchases according to the increased pollution they will put out and the increased petrol they will use (thus driving up prices for all), and hold drivers of them legally liable for any damage done by them that is attributable to the type of vehicle. Including accidents where the SUV driver was not "at fault" but passengers in other cars were killed who would have otherwise lived if they'd collided with a car instead of a big truck monstrosity.

    #OperationShiftOvertonWindows

  • capnahags says:

    "Anyone who has to go to school "for years" to pick out a pitbull is hardly bright enough to bother listening to."

    Anyone who has to go to school "for years" to study the effects of marijuana is hardly bright enough to bother listening to. (and honestly, if this mischaracterizes you, I don't give a single fuck. You've engaged in more dishonesty and moronic rhetoric than I care to list.)

    Yet another inane, idiotic argument. Nothing more than an argument to incredulity combined with an ad hominem.
    a) do you really think they went to school just to do that?
    b) Why exactly do you think you know what a pit bull is better than someone with, oh, you know, actual knowledge? Seriously, what kind of god complex do you have that you think that you can just take the same information everyone others had access to yet come to a better conclusion than people with actual training in the field? I mean, I know that to you, any dog that bites someone and looks vaguely stout and short haired is a pit bull, but I'd rather defer to people who know what they're talking about, rather than someone with no experience in the field and a clear bias to begin with.

    You really need to just admit that you're wrong on this one. You've been shown that the statistics you're using are misleading, if not outright false, and without those your argument is based on nothing more than your personal prejudices (as it ever was).

  • Lady Day says:

    @becca: I'd actually lower the weight limit on dogs (and cats) whose owners are held legally liable for damage done to include all dogs (and cats). This is because the degree of dangerousness doesn't correlate with size in all cases. Small dogs are just as capable of getting rabies as large dogs, and it doesn't matter how big the bite is - rabies is rabies, and a small dog's rabies is just as dangerous as a large dog's.

    That's definitely another delinquent owner issue, unless the animals are feral. Some people don't bother to vaccinate their dogs (or cats), and the consequences can be lethal to humans, not just other animals.

    That's one more reason why I think the "large dog = more dangerous" team is a little off the mark.

  • becca says:

    Actually, you're probably more likely to get rabies from a bat. Which you also shouldn't keep as pets.
    But no, your logic doesn't hold, unless the sole way the animals were risky was rabies (possibly true for bats, not true for dogs).

    We already have laws on the books about what constitutes a case where the owner 'should have known better', and is thus liable or criminally responsible. You can't keep an animal that's already attacked someone; you can't keep a wolf (most places anyway)... because you should know those animals aren't safe.
    The question is simply if a reasonable person should be expected to realize a larger animal is a greater risk (if you take the *severity* of bite effects into account).

    But all that said, I've really got no issues with making the Maryland law type of thing applicable to all dogs... if a toy poodle manages to kill someone (perhaps via an infected bite and an immune compromised individual??), I'm fine with treating it's owner as an accessory to manslaughter.

  • Isabel says:

    I was bitten by a muskrat once. We were playing at a day camp off season, but there was still water in the pool and there was a muskrat floating around on a piece of wood or something. We decided it needed food so we started throwing scraps at it and it jumped up suddenly and bit my hand while I was feeding it. I ended up in the ER again getting another tetanus shot. I still have a scar.

  • Isabel says:

    "if a toy poodle manages to kill someone (perhaps via an infected bite and an immune compromised individual??), I'm fine with treating it's owner as an accessory to manslaughter."

    If your kid bit another kid in the park, and that kid was immune compromised, and it turned out your kid had bitten other kids at daycare and you knew it, and the park victim died later of an infection, would you be fine with being charged as an accessory to manslaughter?

  • Lady Day says:

    @Isabel - That's a great question at the end of your comment. That would definitely be something to think about if I was the parent of kids who weren't vaccinated and who thus put other people at increased risk for disease.

  • becca says:

    Isabel- you think CPS would mind if I take my kid to the park with a muzzle and leash?

    Also, keep in mind my kid is growing up in a world where he can't eat peanut butter (or any non-certified peanut free outside food) at daycare. We're a lot more careful of vulnerable toddlers than we used to be. I'm really not inclined to grumble over this 'loss of freedom' but rather apply some empathy to people who have dead toddlers.

  • capnahags says:

    In regards to the Isabel/Lady Day/becca comments, my .02.

    I think liability is supposed to be in part a function of predictability- hence I can understand to a degree why a toy poodle would be less of a liability than a larger dog. Where I think the line should be drawn though is at simply labeling all larger dogs as automatically dangerous. Quite honestly, if your little poodle has a history of biting people, and someone does get an infection and is seriously injured/dies- yes, you should be more liable (perhaps not to the extent of manslaughter, because you probably had no idea the person was immune-compromised) than the person who had a larger dog that never once bit or harmed a human, and then bit someone. Knowing that your animal frequently bit and either not taking steps to curtail it, and/or allowing it to interact with others without warning them or controlling it is, IMO, more negligent than simply owning a larger dog that one day decides to bite someone. (although I think the "well, the dog was so nice until it mauled someone" argument is a strawman. People will deny til they're blue in the face that there were any warning signs after the fact, because nobody wants to admit they had seen the dog getting aggressive with children but had been too timid to speak up. Best way I ever saw this handled was with my cousin, a vet tech. Her dog growled, one time, at child who had walked up and grabbed a toy right out of its mouth, and that was enough for her to never let it near kids again. And no, it wasn't a pit bull, it was a purebred golden retriever.)

    Anyway, gotta go off on a ship for a while. See y'all later.

  • Henry says:

    The really crazy thing though I don't know if you noticed, is that the landlord is somehow liable for damages??? That's bullshit. You can't go denying someone a place to live based on the type of pet they have. That's crazy shit that lets economic thuggery into every corner of vulnerable people's (renters are relatively quite vulnerable) lives even more.

    You don't threaten to prevent someone from getting a place to live if they own the "wrong" type of dog. That's abhorrent. Many people have a hard enough time. Imaging Abbey at, what blog is it again, the HIV blog, being denied housing, being forced by the government to choose between the dog she has had as her companion for years, and getting a decent place to live that she can afford. The government has absolutely no place causing that shit.

    Indeed, a good government will protect against that sort of bullshit. People who rent deserve a home too, and that means that the details of their lives and what they do in their own homes are their business, period. You pay your rent, you use the place however you want, period. No buts. No taking the opportunity to tamper with people's lives.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    There is no right to pitbull ownership. If you think there is, then address all of the examples in this thread of personal behavior that is constrained by law.

  • Summer's Here says:

    I just read this entire page.

    DM, without any regard to the stances you've placed in this comment thread, you're a huge fucking prick.

  • Jou says:

    It's ok to let people die, because somehow we can all magically hope that people will change when they choose to own a dangerous dog. After all, it's their owners that are the problem. So apparently we are supposed to have some huge system of oversight funded with rainbows and love in place to make sure EVERY person who owns one of these animals will be educated and have special training so their potentially killer dog can be a pet. So let humans die, because these dogs and their selfish owners and defenders are more important than victims. It's better to wait and enforce anything until after the fact.

    They should be bred out and diluted until the breed is a faint trace. There is no reason on earth to keep this breed around and to continue it. None.

  • dubv says:

    Wow, people are willing to simply assert things and do amazing mental gymnastics to deny that dogs created for violent purposes tend to be more dangerous on average.

    Does nature and nurture both play a role? Sure. It's often the dog and the human.

    Dogs have the most variation among mammals because humans made it that so that different "jobs" could be attended to by them.

    Pits were selectively bred to fight bulls and most recently other dogs to the death for no good reason on their part.

    The minds of the pit bull defenders here are laced with what is called the moralistic fallacy (if something would be dreadful if it were true it must not be) and the naturalistic fallacy (what is natural is good). Together, those two fallacies are what constitute the PC mindset that makes you look so irrational.

  • dubv says:

    "Seriously, what kind of god complex do you have that you think that you can just take the same information everyone others had access to yet come to a better conclusion than people with actual training in the field?"

    Pretty simple. Having knowledge in your head does not mean you can think logically, frame things correctly, or get over your own BS. Simply put, experience means nothing without the ability to learn from it effectively and have perspective. If that isn't obvious, consider that many 35 year olds are wiser than many 55 year olds.

    I'm sure you will find that vets differ in their views on animals, many vets are just slightly above average in brains, and may vets hold what you would consider odd beliefs. Heard of Depaak Chopra? He's a medical doctor, but in many ways an utter moron in his argumentation.

  • david swank says:

    If this is true I want to outlaw blacks from the usa IN FACT they are 18% of the population but they are 65% of the crime so i want it easier to put a black person down that does me wrong. thats fair to say right. i will just say they are inherently dangerous which should justify it correct? If not this article is bogus. and already proven wrong.

  • david swank says:

    The dog that attacks its own owner the most is actually the germen shepard. Google it.

  • drugmonkey says:

    ah, so black people have the same ethical and moral standing as do pit bulls, david swank?

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